The simple and rather beautiful drawing on the cover of Waves of Haste offers a hint of what awaits listeners of this new album by Danish artist Hjalte Ross, his second so far. The illustration by Kasper Eistrup is of the head of a young man – perhaps Hjalte himself. He is lying on a beach, a giant shell pressed to his ear and an expression of serenity and stillness as he absorbs the briny secrets offered up by the shell .
Waves of Haste offers a wash of calming, richly textured numbers that were inspired by two locations which could not have been more different – Ross spent time in a deserted lighthouse off Norway’s Lofoten Island, only accessible by boat. He followed this by flying to New York City where he immersed himself in the pulse and thrum of the metropolis. Pre virus naturally.
This new work was recorded with John Wood, famed for working his unique magic touch on albums by John Martyn, Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens, Nico and Nick Drake. It is this latter artist who is so much in evidence on Hjalte Ross’s album, and the soulful warmth and startling clarity of its production values are sure to win the appreciation of Nick Drake fans.
The album unfolds with Ross’s more melancholic numbers, such as the ballad Adrenaline and the thoughtful, brooding quality of How Am I Supposed to Feel – a lush arrangement with strings and Ross’s distinctive deep, whispered vocals layered over the instrumentation.
The second half of the album seems to shift into a different space – more varied and experimental, with a playful note entering some of the compositions. Hjalte’s recent single, Thinking About You, is possibly the most upbeat (review here).
Most intriguing is the track named simply Holidays, a brittle number which packs a moody punch, anguish seeping from its every pore. This is no glorious summer romance of a song, more of a love affair reaching a desperate place with no resolution. “Holidays, and my heart is aching”.
Waves of Haste is a confident work which grows on you with each play, but underneath Hjalte Ross’s soothing delivery lies a darker and more searching narrative which adds a deeper perspective to the album.
Waves of Haste: Produced by Hjalte Ross, engineered by John Wood, mixed & mastered by Daniel James Goodwin, recorded at Dreamland Studio