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 a duo for six years prior to that. This is their second album, released in 2015, five years after their debut.
SVER’s repertoire is composed mainly of their own tunes. Of the eleven on this record, Mjelva has written eight and percussionist Jens Linell two, and one is traditional. But you always sense their Norwegian background in melody lines and the way they play.
The music is all instrumental, often with a heavy beat, and you feel they want you to turn up the volume. This is folk music with the same sort of the attack you find in rock bands. It is recorded live, which gives it a freshness you seldom find in overproduced rock and pop music.
To me there are four stand out tracks. ”RUF” by Mjelva is the shortest one. Starting of with some nice guitar chords to be followed by a heavy beat and a simple but effective melody line. Halfway through it turns into a softer waltz, only to come back to the original melody at the end.
”Falsk vals” (False Waltz) is by Linell. It starts off on the accordion and straight from the beginning you realise the truth of the title. This is anything but a waltz, full of mysterious time signatures, with the players taking turns in leading the proceedings.
According to the sleeve notes, “Totalt Carnage” by Mjelva is a “tribute to the amazing Shetland Folk Festival”. Full of fast fiddling and frenetic rhythms, it is an amazing track. In the middle there is a passage where the second fiddle provides a “sad harmony” that makes for a nice contrast to the happy tune, and also a short bit with only percussion and guitar. Totally brilliant.
The jazzy “Måsså ti nåsså” (Moss in the nose) by Mjelva is the most jazzy number on the record. Driven by a bass line on the guitar (I presume) and the percussion, it has a wonderful groove, with an improvised section in the middle. The whole track shows how versatile this group is.
In all, a very good effort worth the money for anyone interested in instrumental Scandinavian music. And from what I hear on the record they must be on hell of a live band.
(Folkhall Records, 2015)