Issue 18 04/2001

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Laïs "Dorothea"
Label: Virginmusic Belgium; 7243 850657 2 9; 2000; Playing time: 58.59 min
Laïs are the best known exponents of the recent Flemish Folk Boom in Belgium. The three pretty girls have captured with their attractive voices, exciting vocal arrangements and last not least convincing live performances the hearts of many Belgian as well as international audiences. In their native country they have even become stars beyond the Folk Music scene, represented by the fact that this their second album is published by the Belgian branch of the international major Virginmusic.
After a highly convincing debut album, it is never easy to come up with a follow-up of the same level; too high are the expectations. The girls did quite well, and "Dorethea" is definitely again worth a recommendation, although you should not be expecting surprises. The album ranges from a capella songs to folk pop, with a pan European perspective: Six of the 13 songs are in Laïs' mother tongue Flemish, four in French, one in Finnish (of Hedningarna), one in Italian and one in what seems to be some mediterrean dialect (there are no background infos in the booklet). Only very few of the titles are traditional; most of them are written from contemporary artists and chansonniers.In the Folk Pop songs, the girls are backed by a line-up as we are used to from their live appearances: Acoustic and electric guitars, hurdy gurdy and accordeon, bass, percussion. For my taste, the album is not perfect: the inclusion of the standard "Le Renard et la Balette" was not necessary; and the non-ending peeping in the first song makes you latest with the second listening nervous. All in all, Laïs might have gone a bit more into the mainstream direction, which makes probably their debut album more worthwhile. Yet the voices of the three girls shine in all the titles, once again with very well elaborated vocal arrangements, and this makes also this album a special joy to listen to.
Laïs' website
Michael Moll

Hulling "Hårdhajen"
Label: Drone ; DROCD015; 1998; Playing time: 48.30 min
A coolish cover taken in Stockholm's Tunnelbanan (Underground) is the first introduction to this young Swedish band. The music of these five young Stockholmers is yet deeply rooted in Swedish traditions, with a bit of new drive and energy to it. Their music takes its inspirations all over Sweden; the material is for a big extent traditional, along to some contemporary Swedish folk. About half of the numbers on "Hårdhajen" are songs, focussed on the pretty and clear voice of Johanna Bölja. She is joined by four lads on nyckelharpa, fiddle/hardingfela, guitar/mandola and tamburine/big drum/triangle.
This is a convincing album, offering a good mixture of songs and tunes, energy and softness. Based strongly in Swedish traditions, this is a good example of the new Folk Music scene embarking since a couple of years in Stockholm. The result is as beautiful as Sweden's capital is.
Michael Moll

Vilddas "Vilddas"
Label: Wood Productions; Wood024; 2000; Playing time: 48.51 min
This album was for me quite inspiring, presenting an exciting crossover of Sámi music with pop, jazz and world music. Often wide crossovers like this do not work at all; this is one of the few excellent exceptions.
The Sámi are an indigenous folk in Northern Scandinavia (Lapland), having a completely different tradition to the rest of Scandinavia, and Europe. Musically, the best known style is the yoik, a chanting singing style. Centre of the new Finnish band Vilddas is the female vocalist Annukka Hirvasvuopio, being in Northern Finland well-known as actress. She is both at home in traditional yoik and contemporary singing. She is joined by singer and lute player Marko Jouste, percussionist Karo Sampela and clarinettist, ney-flutist and programmer Mikko Vanhanen.
Vilddas' debut album features both contemporary lyrics written by Marko, along to some traditionals; all of the songs being in Sámi language. Most of them capture the magic that the yoik tradition has in it, yet provided in a "listener friendly" manner - which is not meant negatively. Along to this you will find also yoiks in the traditional unaccompanied way, showing what the roots of the songs actually are. The musical arrangements are often very exciting; the lute sounds beautiful to yoiks; clarinet and flute give some beautiful colours to the music, the programming is carefully used. Rough yoik traditions meet music styles from the rest of the world, as well as Jazz, Pop, World. Wonderful music full of atmosphere, a lot of it has earwig character. Highly recommended to anybody open to new roots music.
Vilddas Homepage , e-mail Vilddas; e-mail Wood Prodctions.
Michael Moll

Keltik Elektrik "Keltik Elektrik 2: Just when you thought it was safe to sit down ..."
Greentrax; G2CD 7006; 2000; Playing time: 46.20 min
The title, the photo of a kilt-wearing dancer, the words on the back of the package and the press notice make it very clear: this music wasn't only made for dancing, it is meant to be "unsitdownable". While of course you can dance to this music, it is actually quite possible to sit down and listen to it in a very comfortable way. Perhaps this is the case because of the inflation of "pumping grooves" and so on in folk and world music in recent years.
For the second Keltik Elektrik album, multi-instrumentalist Jack Evans has invited some of Scotland's finest musicians into the studio. In my opinion, the young fiddler Kathryn Nicolls fits best with Evans' dance grooves; you also hear such notables as Mike Katz on small pipes, Simon Thoumire on concertina and Tony McManus on guitar. Especially the latter's intricate guitar work doesn't always blend in seamlessly with the total sound (but just listen to one of his solo albums!).
Despite the highly rated guest musicians, I preferred the individually assembled tracks like "The fair maid of Takla Makan" und "Caledflch". Another excellent track is the ensemble piece "The oyster wives' rant (Cheesy remix)" with its hammond organ.
In terms of modern danceable Scottish music, Keltik Elektrik should be seen as not so much an alternative, but an addition to Shooglenifty - slightly less wild and quite distincly different with their samples, loops and grooves. Jack Evans' homepage
Ansgar Hillner

Citizen Camembert "Anchovy Cappuccino"
Label: Ectomantography; ECTOCD 001; 2000; Playing time: 43.20 min
With two bagpipers and a hurdy gurdy in a line-up of four, Citizen Camembert threatens drone overkill. If that idea doesn't fill you with dread, though, and you don't mind listening to all-instrumental dance music at home, you're in for a treat here! The CD is a small-budget production but offers professional sound quality and an enjoyable selection of self-penned dance tunes.
Arrangements are more varied than the first sentence might have suggested: Dominic Allen plays bagpipes, but also bass clarinet and bouzouki; Dave Rowlands contributes bagpipes and recorder, Max Sweatman hurdy gurdy and Simon Raine adds a solid grounding of bouzouki, guitar, bass guitar and percussion to the mix.
The album can be ordered via the
Citizen Camembert homepage.
Anja Beinroth

Kætter Kvartet "Den Sidste Schottish"
FMS; FFS 0001; 2000; Playing Time: 62.02 min
The Danish Kætter Kvartet seems to specialise in live albums: the last one was reviewed in Folkworld 8. For this latest one, recorded at Tarm Festival in June 2000, they have taken advantage of the festival setting and asked a lot of guests to share the stage. Thus you have a mixture of "classic" Kætter Kvartet arrangements of Scandinavian dance music (mostly self-composed) using fiddle, mandolin/guitar, keyboards and drums, and extended arrangements using additional solo instruments or even a brass section (Guldhornene, on "Var det det det var") and a whole extra band (ROD, on "Wha'm no'e glæ'e").
A fun album and enjoyable to listen to but probably not an essential purchase unless you were there at the time.
agency website
Anja Beinroth

Pamunt Rom Group "Ritmul Nostru"
Compagnia Nuove Indye; CNDL 12167; 2000; Playing time: 39.36 min
Pamunt Rom is a Romanian group of five self-taught musicians playing an original blend of musical styles taking in Balkan folk, klezmer and jazz. The group originally migrated from their native Bucharest to Naples, where they started off as street musicians but soon attracted the attention of concert promoters with their gaiety, exuberant style and musical ability. After a few months on the concert circuit, a recording deal followed, and "Ritmul Nostru" is the result.
The music is mostly instrumental (though several tracks also have vocal passages) and sounds spontaneous and fresh, probably the result of a live recording session in the studio. At the heart of the group is clarinettist Laurentiy Dinca and the two accordions played by Ionut Gugulan and Castel Ciortan. The rhythmical foundation is added by guitarist Florin Barby and Adrain Nan's double bass. The music has a strong eastern European flavour; there are hints of klezmer in the interplay of clarinet and accordion, and it uses the lively, swinging rhythms typical of Romanian and Hungarian gypsy music.
The tightness of the arrangements and the playfulness with which the five musicians interact suggests that they must have been playing together a long time and have gained an instinctive understanding of each other which is impressive to witness and a great joy to listen to.
More information
Anja Beinroth

Tendachënt "Ori Pari"
Ethnosuoni; ES 5305; 2000; Playing time: 41.08 min
Tendachënt is one of the groups arisen out of the ashes of what was probably the internationally best-known North Italian folk group, La Ciapa Rusa from Piedmont, with Maurizio Martinotti, Bruno Raiteri and Devis Longo remaining from the original line-up. They continue to present a combination of traditional Piedmontese and original material (songs and tunes) on a range of acoustic instruments including hurdy gurdy, violins and violas, woodwind, guitars and mandoloncello, with keyboards, unobtrusive drums, and bass.
This latest album offers no real surprises, but all the quality and expertise you expect from these fine musicians. Piedmontese music, certainly in the hands of these experts, is easily accessible and very enjoyable.
Group description (in Italian), further information (in English)
Anja Beinroth

Quartetto Tamborini "Quartettino Giocoso"
Ethnosuoni; ES 5307; 2000; Playing time: 39.51 min
When he isn't busy reviving traditional Piedmontese folk song with Tendachënt or Italian Christmas music with the Ensemble del Doppio Bordone, violinist Bruno Raiteri has a side project which concentrates on a quite different part of Piedmontese culture, that of local 18th century music composed to be performed in drawing- rooms, theatres and churches, traditionally by string quartet and voice .
The Quartetto Tamborini - Barbara Careggio and Antonio Sacco (violins), Bruno Raiteri (viola) and Marco Pasquino (cello) - have unearthed a rich repertoire of such compositions in Northern Italy, both classical compositions and popular dances of their time (waltzes, mazurkas and monferrinas). Of the twelve tracks on the CD, four are Piedmontese- language folk songs, the rest purely instrumental pieces. The music proves what the sleeve notes claim: namely, that many local musicians of the 19th century "handed down pleasant compositions still worth[y] of attention". I especially enjoyed the jaunty "Detective Rag" by Ermenegildo Carosio.
You could perhaps call this the traditional music of the educated classes. It's probably a bit too far off the beaten track to become noticed by the classical music industry, so lots of classical music fans who would enjoy it will probably miss out. But there's no need for you to, so if you like string quartet music, do get hold of this!
Group description (in Italian), furth er information (in English)
Anja Beinroth

Martin Carthy "The Carthy Chronicles"
Free Reed; FRQCD 60; 2001; Playing time: >5 hours over 4 CDs
It is hard not to go over the top with the superlatives when trying to describe this wonderful new release in Free Reed's Revival Masters series. It is a superb anthology of Martin Carthy's work over nearly forty years, lovingly compiled with meticulous notes in a beautifully designed package comprising a long-format box with a 100-page paperback book, poster, a Pete Frame family tree and four CDs. Early purchasers also have the chance to send off for a free CD-Rom with further material.
CD 1 is entitled "Classic Carthy" and offers exactly what the title says, 17 classic recordings, including "Scarborough Fair" and "Byker Hill", some recorded solo, some in band arrangements of various sizes. Disc 2 ("Carthy in Company") concentrates on the latter and is my personal favourite due to the huge variety of material and arrangements on offer. Disc 3 ("Carthy Contemporaries") is a selection of Carthy interpretations of fellow 20th-century songwriters' material, a different writer for each track. The last disc, "Child:Carthy" is devoted to Martin Carthy's interpretation of the traditional English folk ballad (the title referring to folk song collector Francis Child of course).
The selection is amazingly varied for a single-artist anthology (illustrating just how versatile an artist Martin Carthy is!), mixing solo recordings with duo, trio and larger band arrangements so that every CD offers a lot of variety: Dave Swarbrick, John Kirkpatrick, Les Barker, Steeleye Span, Brass Monkey, the Watersons and Waterson:Carthy are all represented, and many more besides. Being a Free Reed release, what you do not get here is a bunch of readily-available- elsewhere material thrown together to make a fast buck. Far from it in fact. A lot of meticulous research has gone into this anthology, and it rewards the collector with numerous live and BBC recordings and otherwise hard-to-find material, even a taster of Martin's forthcoming all-instrumental album. Needless to say, all this is documented in the sleeve notes and accompanying book, carefully crediting sources and recording dates for every track.
If any proof were needed of Martin Carthy's pivotal role in English folk music, you have it here: the box provides a surprisingly accurate summary of English folk music of the last four decades. With a retail price of around £40 the Carthy box may not be cheap, but trust me: you're getting value for money here!
Free Reed's Martin Carthy compendium
Anja Beinroth

Toxa "Toxa"
Label: Drone; DROCD21; 2000; Playing time: 48.04 min
Fiddle and singing, fiddle and guitar and flute, this is what the young Swedish trio Toxa is composed of. Toxa play acoustic traditional-based Swedish music, which is often minimalistic interpreted, with often solo parts, leaving lots of space for all of the three musicians. Six out of 16 numbers are songs, sung by Marie Axelsson with her clear voice, and only very subtly accompanied by the boys Olof Misgeld (fiddle) and Olle Lindvall (guitar, flute). Some of the tunes are composed also by Olle and Olof. The trio plays very tightly together, with at times imaginative arrangements. Lovely intimate traditional music.
Michael Moll

Novalia "10"
Label: Ludos; LDL12182; 2000; Playing time: 68.50 min
Italian folk rock. "10" celebrates Novalia's 10th anniversary, and this live CD features a selection of the band's favourites of their first 10 years ("10 years in one night" as the booklet says), plus additionally two previously unreleased tracks, one of them being the first song they wrote in dialect. The other songs are all re-worked and re-arranged for this live recording. A charismatic singer with a warm voice, a band with a strong melodic and atmospheric accordeon, with well-played rootsy electric guitars, at times tribal percussion. Then at times other folk instruments from singer and multiinstumentalist Rafaello Simeoni - like small pipe, low whistle, bombarde, ocarina etc.
The infos in the booklet are very sparce (and all in Italian, which does not help too much for me), but it seems that most of the songs of this album were written by the band. The music is probably more kind of high quality Italian pop/rock with a strong roots element, but it is definitely great fun. The live atmosphere of a concert is well captured (the applauses are included, no announcements), with the sound quality being really good. Especially the accordeon makes this album really atmospheric.
I enjoyed it.
Novalia's webpage
Michael Moll

Francesco Benozzo "in 'tla piöla"
Label: Sain; SCD2278; 2000; Playing time: 40.39 min
A beautiful album where the Celtic Harp meets one of the dialects of the Northern Italian Appennines, of Fanano. Fransesco sings his poetry in this old more and more disappearing romance language that has strong influence from Celtic (Gallic) roots. Playing along to his quiet and sensitive songs the Celtic harp, he captures the soul of both this old language and the landscape that is described in his songs, where this language used to flourish. And he captures the spirit of his home not only in poetry and music, Francesco is also a talented photographer, as the landscape photos in the booklet prove. The booklet is anyway a full delight, offering not only the photos, but also the lyrics along with translations and notes in Italian, Welsh and English language.
This album is at the same time a collaboration with old Celtic music traditions: Supervised by Welsh musician Elwyn Williams, Francesco is joined by Breton musician Laurent Moal on guitar and the Welsh harp of the poet-troubadour Twn Morys. The music is full of quiet and dreamy, yet stunning beauty, highly enjoyable on a peaceful evening at home with candle light.
Sain Records Wales
Michael Moll

Fiamma fumana "1.0"
Label: Mescal S.r.l.; 546 921-2; 1999; Playing time: 47.50 min
Traditional music from the Emilian region in Northern Italy meets trendy world, Celtic music and modern dance music. The result is rather exciting and attractive: The voice of female singer Fiamma Alberto Marco lies always in the foreground, while the instrumentation gives groove, excitement and rhythm to the eclectic music. On the album, Fiamma is joined by a programmer, but also by trad instruments accordeon, fiddle, uilleann pipes/bouzouki, scottish warpipe, tin whistle and guitar. Among the central persons in the music is also founder member of the Modena City Ramblers, Alberto Cottica.
It is very obvious that there is a strong Celtic influence in the music, and that they have taken some inspiration in the recent Scottish folk-dancefloor experiments of Martyn Bennett, Shooglenifty etc. All the songs are in Italian, yet some of them feature kind of Scottish Waulking Song and Irish lilting bits. It is an exciting mix, creating a new Italian folk fusion. The music is also thought for live appearances, so if you are a festival, this might be an interesting venture.
I really enjoyed this album, and I am sure anybody who loves the Scottish counterparts of this style will also love Fiamma fumana.
Fiamma fumana
Michael Moll

Eter "Eter"
Label: Drone; DROCD016; 1998; Playing time: min
Eter is a four piece band playing new innovative Swedish traditional music. The instruments that sets Eter apart from most other bands is the Cello, played by Leo Svensson. The other musicians, all obviously masters of their music, are Anna Johansson on violin and altvioline, her sister (??) Emma Johansson on concert flutes and additional vocals, and singer Sofia Karlsson, her beautiful clear voice being known also from her collaboration with Groupa. The young musicians play innovatively and full of new ideas, yet still quite close to the tradition. Roughly half of the 13 titles on the album are songs. Instrumentally, the flute often takes up the lead role, with the cello and fiddle giving an exciting background; sometimes the fiddle also has the lead. Another of the more sparkling mosaic stones in the new Swedish Folk scene.
Michael Moll

Companyia Elèctrica Dharma "Sonada!"
Label: Mondicor; 20152; 2000; Playing time: 58.17 min
Dharma are a crazy party band from Barcelona, showing like noone else how much fun the sound of the tenora can be. In this music there is a lot of brass, a lot of rhythm and excitement, innovation, noice and last not least fun and happiness. The base of the band is the Fortuny family: Joan on soprano sax, Lluis on Trumpet, Fiscorn and Teclats, Maria on piano, teclats and accordeon and Jesep on percussion. Add to that e-bassist Carles Vidal, and Dharma are complete.
On Sonada! Dharma play partly traditional material, partly their own stuff. All is instrumental, all is innovative and powerful, yet not easy to pigeonhole; there is trad, folk, brass, jazz, rock, ethno and more. This album is an absolute "must" on any Euro-based world music party!
Michael Moll

Ranarim "till ljusan dag"
Label: Drone; DROCD019; 2000; Playing time: 46.29 min
This album made it on a last minute base into FolkWorld's Editors Top 10 2000. Here now finally the CD review.
What makes Ranarim stand out of other Swedish bands are the two female singers, Ulrika Bodén and Sofia Sandén, whose singing complements perfectly, giving a new dimension to tradtional Swedish songs. Along to that, there is the exceptionally wonderful accompaniment of Niklas Roswall, one of Sweden's best Nyckelharpa players, and Jens Engelbrecht, a very effective guitarist. The material they are performing is to a big extent tradtional, coming from all over Sweden, and is (quite obviously with this line-up) based on songs. Staying close to the traditions, Ranarim have the ability to breath new life into the old songs, they become powerful, beautiful, fresh, up-to-date. Although being based on the pretty voices of the two young women, the band leaves enough spaces for the musicians to add their own very special note to Ranarim. Ranarim managed well to capture the freshness of their live performances onto CD. And not only that the music is wonderful, additionally, the booklet has both attractive lay-out and song text, along with infos in Swedish, English and French.
One of the best Swedish recordings I have heard during the last time. Watch out for the interview with Ranarim in this issue!
Ranarim's website
Michael Moll

Maria Kalaniemi & Sven Ahlbäck "Ilmajousi - Luftstråk"
Label: Amigo; AMCD745; 2001; Playing time: 50.43 min
This collaboration was already planned for a long time, but happened only now. Maria Kalaniemi, by now one of the best known accordeonists of the Finnish folk scene, and Sven Ahlbäck, one of the well-known Swedish fiddlers, have met at the Sibelius Academy, and found out that their music works very well together. Since they met, they always wanted to have a project together, but due to lack of time, nothing happened - besides Sven's collaboration on Maria's debut CD.
This album was definitely worth to wait for. As both musicians have in their own style quite a bit of melodic freedom, the duo collaboration also boosts of freedom; staying true to the traditional tunes, both musicians find lots of room to improvise. To add another dimension to the recording, they have asked Johan Hedin on Nyckelharpa and Susanne Rosenberg on vocals to join them. The album features a mix of traditional Swedish and Finnish tunes and own compositions of either Maria or Sven. Every number of the album is a delight; a fully recommended album!
Michael Moll

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