Chuck Lipsig penned this reviewer.
Mats Eden is a founder and the only original member of the Swedish contemporary folk group, Groupa. With Lackerbiten (which, I believe, translates to “Little Bits”), Eden goes solo and traditional, performing thirty — yes, thirty — tunes originating in the Varmland region, straddling the border of Sweden and Norway.
My advice to anyone unfamiliar with Scandinavian music listening to this CD is to listen to it twice. The first time through the CD, I initially had troubles following the tunes. Then, about two- thirds of the way through this, I started grasping them. When I listened to the first tracks again, the music was much clearer. It takes a little adjustment for ears more accustomed to music of the American, English, and Celtic traditions, but it’s an effort not without rewards.
Eden demonstrates his command of both fiddle and accordion throughout this recording. Several of the highlights include “Matses polska,” which Eden puts some extra joy in. “Rejlander” is one of the best tunes but is disappointingly short at less than one minute and forty seconds. “Langtjos,” a Norwegian tune, is not only well performed but has a more than passing resemblance to the English tune, “The Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of tediousness with this recording. Too many of the tunes are similarly paced and start running together. And, with 30 tunes performed in less than 70 minutes, too often a tune ends just as I’m getting into it! “Rejlander” is a good example of this.
While Mats Eden’s comments in Swedish are quite lengthy in the liner notes, the English translations are clearly only part of the commentary. This is especially annoying when the comments in Swedish mention “Amerika,” but the passage is not translated into English. This could be an opportunity lost for American listeners to look for Scandinavian music in the U.S.
Amigo Musik has an English Web site. For those who follow Scandinavian music, Lackerbiten is a fine recording. For those who are curious about that tradition, it’s a good recording to listen to.
(Amigo Musik, 1998)