Tag Archives: Nordic music

Aallotar’s Ameriikan Laulu

To me, the sound of a fiddle and accordion together is exemplary of folk dance music. So many European-based cultures have dance music traditions that feature these two instruments, from the Roma, Italians and French, to the English, Irish and … Continue reading

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Oslo Kammerkor’s Kyst, Kust, Coast; Voces Nordicae’s Nordic Voices

The Olso Kammerkor, based in the Uranienborg Church in Oslo, is an internationally known chorus with an extraordinarily wide repertoire, ranging from Gregorian chant to jazz and folk music. The group has been most widely recognized for its translations of … Continue reading

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Gabriel Fliflet and Ole Hamre’s Eine kleine Kraftmusik

My first reaction to Fliflet and Hamre’s Eine kleine Kraftmusick was to break into laughter from sheer surprise and delight. One forgets, sometimes, how raucously fun-loving Norwegians can be. That is only one point in favor of this collection — … Continue reading

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Danish String Quartet’s Last Leaf

Last Leaf is the Danish String Quartet’s second foray into “traditional” music. Their previous album in this vein, Wood Works, focused on music of the Faroe Islands and various small Nordic towns and villages. Last Leaf, although still focusing on … Continue reading

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Björn Meyer’s Provenance

The energetically strummed funk of a tune called “Squizzle” is more or less what I expected when I approached an album of solo bass guitar music. It’s a quick in-and-out of a tune, just the electric bass and some subtle … Continue reading

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Karl Seglem’s Nordic Balm

I was initially leery of this album titled Nordic Balm with its whiff of New Age, but because I was very favorably impressed with Karl Seglem’s 2012 release NyeSongar.no, I resolved to set aside my prejudices and approach it with … Continue reading

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Helge Lien Trio’s Guzuguzu

In my little corner of the world, a new album by the Helge Lien Trio is always cause for (quiet) celebration. Their 2017 release Guzuguzu is a particular treat of lyrical melodicism, playful, sometimes angular rhythms and sonic surprises. From … Continue reading

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Martti Vesala Soundpost Quintet’s Helsinki Soundpost

Finnish trumpeter Martti Vesala attempted to capture the sounds and flavors of his home base Helsinki with a classic jazz quintet. The aural picture that emerges on Helsinki Soundpost is a delightful tour. This talented young horn player fronts the … Continue reading

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SVER’s Fryd

SVER is a Norwegian five piece group boasting two fiddlers, a 2-row accordionist, a guitarist and a percussionist. They started out as a group in 2008, but fiddler Olav Luksengård Mjelva and accordionist Leif Ingvar Ranöjen had been playing as … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Arctic Paradise: Contemporary Finnish Folk Music 2001

Judith Gennett penned this review. Finland, with only 5 1/2 million people, is home to Linux, Nokia, and a lot of amazing music. Arctic Paradise is a free promotional sampler series devised by the Finnish Music Information Center to introduce the … Continue reading

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Haugaard & Høirup’s Light

This album, Lys in Danish, won three Danish Music Awards (the “Danish Grammys”) in 2002, for Best Folk Album, Best Folk Artist (traditional), and Best Folk Instrumentalist (Harald Haugaard), and as they say on their Web site, “we are very, … Continue reading

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Kjell-Erik Arnesen and Jrgen Larsen’s Calls, and Frydis Ree Wekre’s Ceros

Both of these albums are horn-based. The horn is much less popular, it seems, than its cousins in the brass family. Most jazz bands have saxophone, trombone, and trumpet sections (in order of decreasing size), but no horns. I haven’t … Continue reading

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Väsen’s Linnaeus Väsen 

According to the Väsen Web site, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame said in Dagens Industri Weekend (May 19-20 2006), ‘In Sweden you have Väsen. It’s a traditional folk band based on the Nyckelharpa, and it’s really good music, … Continue reading

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Svobsk’s En Klang af Tidloshed (A Sound of Timelessness) 

En Klang af Tidloshed is the second CD from this Danish neo-traditional band. Their first outing, Sig Mig (Tell Me), was issued in 2005. Back then, the band was a duet, with Maren Hallberg on accordion and Jorgen Dickmeiss on stringed instruments … Continue reading

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A Nordic Roots Omni: Ragnhild Furholt’s Lån Meg Vengjene; Ragnhild Furebotten’s Edelig Vals; Kristine Heebøll’s 10 Point; Svend-Erik Pedersen’s Selsølåter — Låter fra Selsø; Eskil Romme’s Himmerlandsmelodier

Nordic roots. That’s what this review is about. We tend to refer to “Nordic trad” a lot around here at GMR, but it strikes me, surveying these CDs, that “traditional” is going to get bent badly out of shape, perhaps … Continue reading

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Tummel’s Payback Time

Think about the band playing on while the Titanic goes down. Think of some of Joel Gray’s bitchier numbers in Cabaret. Think of Josephine Baker at her most outrageous taking Paris by storm. Think of a bunch of crazy Swedes … Continue reading

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Grannar’s Sofiagatan: Folk Music from Southern Sweden; Väsen’s Väsen Street; Kari Tauring’s Völva Songs

“Traditional” is one of those words that gets bandied about a lot these days, particularly when talking about families and music. I’ll leave families to a more political outlet and talk about music here. Now, “traditional” in music can mean … Continue reading

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The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc in concert

I usually don’t like it when a concert review is more about the reviewer than the musicians, so I’ll apologize up front. But this time, it’s kind of all I’ve got. The day started well enough (and – spoiler alert … Continue reading

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  Ruth MacKenzie’s Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden

Chuck Lipsig penned this review. The Kalevala is the Finnish national epic, as collected and compiled by Elias Lonnrot in the second quarter of the 19th century. In Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, Ruth MacKenzie, who is based in the Minneapolis … Continue reading

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The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc’s Deliverance

Deliverance, the second release by The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, brims with life, energy, a lot of joy and a little bit of sorrow, all poured out in the delightful strains of fiddle music from three different but related traditions. The … Continue reading

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Jakob Bro’s Streams

Streams by Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s trio, is a beautifully flowing project featuring the young American bassist Thomas Morgan and the veteran drummer Joey Baron on the skins, replacing Jon Christensen, who played on Bro’s previous trio outing Gefion. Even … Continue reading

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Mats Eilertsen’s Rubicon

The tune “March” on Mats Eilertsen’s Rubicon is one of the most delicious bits of atmospheric noir jazz I’ve heard in some time. It’s unexpected coming from this Norwegian bassist’s septet, on an album that draws on various styles and … Continue reading

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Nils Økland Band’s Kjølvatn

Kjølvatn is an acoustic tradition-based project by Norwegian hardanger fiddler Nils Økland. His most recent release on ECM was by his psychedelic, distortion-drenched drone-rock band Lumen Drones. In contrast, Kjølvatn sounds like ancient music, sometimes drawn from folk sources and … Continue reading

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Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelly and Charlie Pilzer’s Hambo in the Barn

Back in the twentieth century, a lot of Scandinavians relocated from Sweden and the surrounding countries to the upper Midwest where they became farmers and shopkeepers for the most part.  Naturally they brought both their instruments and their music with … Continue reading

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Hedningarna’s 1989-2003

Hedningarna began as a Swedish instrumental folk trio in the late 80’s. Anders Stake (now Anders Norudde) played a variety of mostly homemade fiddles, flutes, and bagpipes, Hållbus Totte Mattson played lute and hurdy-gurdy, and Björn Tollin played percussion. The … Continue reading

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Hedningarna’s Karelia Visa

It’s an odd thing — one of the words which keeps coming to mind when I listen to this CD is “evocative.” But that raises the question, what exactly does it evoke? And I can’t really give you an answer, … Continue reading

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Hedningarna’s Hedningarna 

This is the album that got the Hedningarna phenomenon going, a richly textured, darkly fascinating instrumental album by the “core” trio of Björn Tollin (frame drum, string drum, hurdy-gurdy, moraharpa), Anders Norudde (fiddle, hardanger fiddle, moraharpa, swedish bagpipe, bowed harp, … Continue reading

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Hoven Droven’s Groove

A sextet from Sweden, Hoven Droven live up to their name, which roughly translates to “Helter Skelter.” To call their music merely sprightly would be an insult; to say they are just energetic, a gross understatement. The eighteen instrumental tracks … Continue reading

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Hedningarna’s Hippjokk and  Trå 

If Gjallarhorn is cool and crisp like a late winter day, Hedningarna is a winter day when the storm is raging. Dirty Linen said of them — ‘Only a few bands really seem to define their own genre, but Hedningarna is definitely … Continue reading

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Hoven Droven’s More Happy Moments With Hoven Droven

The “bad boys of Swedish folk / rock” are back with their second American release — a resounding reminder of their unique blend of hard rock and folk roots. Perhaps a smidgen less frenetic than their previous Northside release, Groove, More Happy … Continue reading

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Harv’s Must 

Naomi de Bruyn penned this review. According to the notes I found at the website, “‘harv’ means ‘harrow,’ a farm instrument used to level land. And in Swedish, ‘harv’ also has the connotation of a really intense experience, which is … Continue reading

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Gaate’s Jygri 

After listening to folk rock for more than 30 years it is easy to suspect you have heard it all — that every new record you get is merely a slight variation of some other record in your collection. And … Continue reading

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Færd’s Logbok 

Mike Wilson penned this review. Logbok (Log Book) is a refreshing and assured sounding collection from this gifted Scandinavian ensemble. The core trio that make up Færd are violinist Peter Uhrbrand, Eskil Romme on accordion and saxophones — both from Denmark — and the … Continue reading

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Anon Egeland’s Ånon 

Big Earl Sellar penned this review. It seems the new hot spot in the world music arena is Scandinavia. With a rekindled interest in the music that help to spawn many currently popular styles (such as country), the music from central … Continue reading

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Den Fule’s Quake

Gary H. Wikfors penned this review. When I was trying to find something that my good friend, a Breton girl of 22 who loves nu-metal music, would like, I pulled out Den Fule. Her assessment: “That’s really fun, kinda like Irish … Continue reading

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Annbjorg Lien’s Prisme

Gary H. Wikfors penned this review. This CD, recorded in July of 1996, documents the time when Norwegian hardangar fiddler (and classical violinist) Annbjorg Lien, found her own voice. Eleven of thirteen tracks are original compositions; the remaining two are adaptations … Continue reading

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Annbjørg Lien’s Aliens Alive

Asher Black penned this review. Behind every traditional hardanger fiddle tune there is always a story, always a fairy tale, and you actually tell the stories when you play the fiddle.  — Annbjørg Lien  Annbjørg Lien finds, in folk music, everything from … Continue reading

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Dag Gården’s frå folk te’ folk 

Judith Gennett penned this review. Located north of Oslo and south of Tondheim, The Gudbrandsdalen is known as Norway’s “valley of valleys.” It is, along with its western extension the Ottadalen, also known as a hotbed of “normal” fiddling, using the … Continue reading

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Mikko Joensuu’s Amen 1

Mikko Joensuu is a Finnish musician, singer and songwriter who’s known in his home country for his work in an indie-psychedelic-shoegaze band called Joensuu 1685. His solo debut Amen 1 is the first release in a planned trilogy of Americana-tinged … Continue reading

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Childsplay at the State Street Church

Imagine anywhere from 21 to 28 fiddler/violin players on one stage with a rhythm section, throw in a random banjo or wooden flute … sound like a party? Well, that’s how Childsplay got its start: in Bob Childs’ house at … Continue reading

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Gjallarhorn’s Grimborg

What is it about Nordic folk music that draws you? Is it the wailing fiddles, the slight dissonance that seems to tap into something very basic? Is it the melodies, the lilt to the tunes? And Gjallarhorn’s magic? Was it … Continue reading

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Alban & Josue’s Polska pa Pan

Mike Stiles wrote this review. At first glance at a bi-cultural collaboration like Polska pa Pan, I’ve come to expect one of two possibilities. The collaboration can be an exchange of traditions or it can be slanted towards that of one of … Continue reading

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Plommon’s Sah

Big Earl Sellar wrote this review. It’s interesting how the current interest in reviving older traditions has been embraced by younger people throughout the world. Plommon is a group of five young women from Sweden playing traditional songs within a neotraditional … Continue reading

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Tron Steffen Westberg’s Bortover all vei…

If you’ve ever asked the question “What IS Norwegian fiddling anyway?” this recording is your answer. Tron Steffen Westberg’s Bortover all vei… is just the fiddle, thank you. He is a masterful spellemann and if you listen straight through the recording without stopping you … Continue reading

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Värttinä’s iki 

The twenty year history of the Finnish band Värttinä has been one of perpetual flux and evolution. From the group of 21(!) teenagers from the village of Rääkkylä that promoted Karelian traditional music during the 80’s, to the nine-piece outfit … Continue reading

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Väsen’s Trio 

Väsen is Olov Johansson on 3-row chromatic nyckelharpa and kontrabasharpa, Mikael Marin on viola, 5-string viola, and pomposa, and Roger Tallroth on 12-string guitar and bosoki. Having had the opportunity over the last few years to immerse myself in many … Continue reading

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Gjallarhorn’s Sjofn 

There’s something great about a world where the didgeridoo, butt-kicking percussion, and some Indian-influenced vocals seems seem right at home on an album of Finnish-Swedish folk music. Actually there’s just something great about Sjofn, Gjallarhorn’s second offering. It’s got lush vocals, … Continue reading

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JPP’s Kaustinen Rhapsody

Brendan Foreman penned this review. JPP — short for Järvelän Pikkupelimannit (“Little Folk Musicians of Järvelä”) — originally formed in 1983 as a local fiddle orchestra in the small town of Järvelä, Finland. Formed around the nucleus of 3 fiddlers, including … Continue reading

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Hannu Saha’s Mahla

Judith Gennett penned this review. What can be done with a kantele? Hannu Saha is a master of the Finnish lap harp, or kantele. In Finland, the word for “string” is “kieli,” the same as the word for “tongue,” thus kanteles … Continue reading

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Mats Eden’s Lackerbiten 

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 … Continue reading

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