Needlepoint is a Norwegian group based in Oslo that straddles the border between jazz and prog in a unique and timeless way. Based around the renowned guitarist Bjørn Klakegg, the band is rounded out by a veritable who’s-who of the Nordic jazz and rock scene, including members of Elephant9, Møster!, Bigbang and others.
Their first album ‘The Woods Are Not What They Seem’ was released in 2010, followed by ‘Outside the Screen’ (2012), ‘Aimless Mary’ (2015), and ‘The Diary of Robert Reverie’ (2018). Their upcoming album entitled ‘Walking Up That Valley’ is slated for release in late January of 2021.
The band says the following about their new record: “Nikolai and Bjørn have cooperated in the making of all the albums, from Bjørn’s ideas being captured on his phone up until their journey’s conclusion upon the record’s grooves. Bjørn considered himself a jazz musician when he first met Nikolai, but his old British heroes from the 70s such as ELP stepped out of the fog in the musical company of the now Needlepoint bassist. Olaf Olsen and David Wallumrød were Nikolai’s unconditional choices to fulfill the lineup.
Needlepoint started as an instrumental band, but when the second album was almost finished, Bjørn and Nikolai had a talk that leads to Bjørn’s first steps towards identity as a singer. That talk also changed the identity of the band.
It was never really a conscious choice of style by the band, but Needlepoint is now considered a prog band by many listeners, and it’s a pleasure having such an addicted audience by their side. Many people mention the Canterbury Scene to describe the band’s profile, and Robert Wyatt, Sid Barret, Caravan, Camel, and even King Crimson and Yes are also mentioned to place our musical identity.
The last album is absolutely connected to the previous ones, but there are also new sounds to be heard. Bjørn has picked up his flute and violin, so there is a strange little orchestra appearing here and there in the album. Olaf is accompanied by Erik, who plays percussion on the album, and their fun together is audible on the album, while David treats his collection of beautiful vintage keyboard instruments like no one else. Everything is supervised by producer and bass player Nikolai Hængsle; his bass playing as powerful and brilliant as always, and Bjørn’s vocal are more present than ever in this production. In some of the tracks the band is touching new areas, but absolutely without losing its identity.”
The new album ‘Walking Up That Valley’ continues the line of development from the band’s past two releases, which dug more deeply into the Canterbury prog only hinted at by the band’s first outings. With the group’s maturity has come continued exploration, evinced in a plethora of instruments heard across the album: harpsichord, violin, flute, a choir, and more additional layers of sonic beauty to an album already bursting with ideas. Between dreamy vintage keyboards, busy drums and percussion, mind-bending, jazz-tinged guitar work and deft bass lines, Klakegg’s soft and melodious voice finds room in the mix, tying the album together with tales from the road between reality and fantasy.
‘Walking Up That Valley’ is sure to please fans of prog, 70’s rock, jazz, and even folk-rock. The album will be available on January 29, 2021, on colored vinyl, CD, and digital download in Europe from Stickman Records.
Cover photo: (c) Alice Bellati