Liner Note Author: Lars Morch Finborud.
The Norwegian band That's Why put out a couple of albums around the late 1960s and early '70s that were an intriguing mix of psychedelic rock, jazz of both the experimental and more traditional vocal variety, and lyrics incorporating the works of transcendental poets. As the liner notes to this U.K. reissue explain, they were also part of the Norwegian Christian music community, although as all but one of these songs were sung in Norwegian, it's unlikely many listeners outside of Norway would pick up on that without such background information. This record does not in any way conform to the stereotypes many listeners would have of the blander music from the Christian umbrella. Instead, it sounds very much a product of the boundary-breaking psychedelic age, in a positive way. The vocals (often but not always female) draw from haunting, sober, European-flavored tones and more conventional, American, pop-jazz singing groups. The musical arrangements lean toward penetrating, sometimes spacy soul-jazz, with some groovy organ. Yet the music eludes easy description, sometimes drifting into placid folk, but informed almost as much by rock as jazz in the interplay between instruments and the urgently rhythmic acoustic guitars. Perhaps it sounds more exotic to non-Norwegian-speaking audiences because of the language barrier, but it often has an intoxicating, shifting, drifting, questing quality that marks it as more of a quirky psychedelic effort than a progressive jazz one, though it owes much to jazz in its construction. For all those reasons, it's well worth hearing for psychedelic/early progressive rock fans looking for something that doesn't sound much like other music in the genre. The annotation isn't all this record deserves, however, not specifying the sources and original release dates of the tracks (presumably these were taken from both albums since it's a best-of), and devoting half the liner notes to the era's Norwegian Christian music scene before providing sketchy details of That's Why's records and career. ~ Richie Unterberger