FolkWorld Issue 39 07/2009

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Stanley Samuelsen "Sól og regn"
Tutl; SHD 74; 2005
Stanley Samuelsen is a singer-songwriter from the Faeroe islands who released with Sól og regn his second solo album. He finds his inspiration in the works of guitarists such as John Renbourn and Stephen Stills and has a great love for (Faeroe) poets for which he composed music during the eighties. Now he records mostly his own lyrics which are sung in the Faroese Language and occasionally in Danish. Besides his own composition he also sings the famous traditional The water is wide. This album shows the unique geographical position the islands have, situated between Scandinavia, Iceland and Scotland. Samuelsen shows on this album to be a nice folksinger. He has a relaxed style, easygoing (acoustic) songs which are rooted deeply in the (Scandinavian) folk singers tradition. It’s music to please, sometimes close to ‘middle of the road’ folk like in Salin ber viđ fuglasong or folk pop like in Rygtet fortaller but mostly with enough originality to stay away from the mainstream. Nice is Útferđarhugur with strong female vocals by Guđrun Sólja Jacobsen. The two vocals match perfectly and make this song my favourite on this album. Samuelsen knows how to reach a big audience with his open minded and easy going songs.
Eelco Schilder

Anja Præst Mikkelsen "Hemmeligheden"
GO Folk; GO1408; 2008
Morild "Der Stode tre skalke"
Label: GO Folk; GO1708; 2008
Kryss "Kryss"
Label: Tutl; SHD 86; 2008
Trio Acoustica "Trio Acoustica"
Label: Gateway Nora CD 002; 2008
Fin Alfred "Sange fra min vandring – fra land og by"
Label: Own label; 2009
Triotinus "Triotinus"
Label: GO Folk; GO0109; 2009
A bunch of new CD’s from Denmark (more or less) starting with the solo album by Anja Præst Mikkelsen which is called Hemmeligheden (the secret). Præst Mikkelsen is known as one of the members of the famous Danish folk band Phønix and is a master on the Clarinet and also plays the alto saxophone. On this solo album she plays with a bunch of known and unknown Danish musicians including two of her Phønix colleagues. This solo project gives her the space to play her own compositions in her personal style. The result is an album of high quality with beautiful, sunny compositions and strong play. She shows to be a composer of uncomplicated music that is rooted in the Nordic tradition but has direct links to jazz and other West-European music traditions. In each song she invites other musicians to play with her, which makes this album nicely varied, without getting unbalanced. Interesting album for those who love the Clarinet, but also for those who like well played, peaceful folky acoustic music. The second Danish album comes from the band Morild with their newest album Der stode tre skalke. The band exists out of Anne Dueholk on vocals and sax, Henrik Kunz on bass and Christine Dueholm on percussion. It’s the band’s second album and a big step forwards. Eight compositions including traditional songs and original material. The album starts strong with the traditional Ramund. A very Danish folk song, greatly sung and in a strong arrangement. It starts like a sweet ballad, but has a venomous and bloody end. Great how the band slowly and subtle brings more and more darkness in this song. Than two more light-footed compositions, first the song En yndig og frydefuld sommertid and the instrumental Floddans. Nice is the Anne Dueholm composition Stille regn which is more a ‘midnight-jazz’ song than a folk song. The same for that other Dueholm composition Porøs pind. With this second album Morild shows a solid sound and a strong development since their debut album. Next is the group Kryss, a mostly Danish band, with also a Swedish and Norwegian musician. Kryss is a cooperation between the known band Færd, Pierre Dørge, Irene Becker and singer Jullie Hjetland. The group was founded in Tórshavn on the Faeroe islands in 2004, when the founders of Færd met Dørge and Becker. At that time these two musicians were part of the band New jungle orchestra. The sextet decided to cooperate and with Jullie Hjetland they found their singer to complete the band. The album contains a combination of traditional songs, like the Norwegian Mattvisa, own compositions like the very nice jazzy instrumental Skæv men lykkelig which is very recognisable as an Eskil Romme composition. Interesting is also the bands interpretation of Dutch born (but Swedish legend) Vreeswijk song; Telegram från bombad by. Maybe I’m mistaken, but isn’t the used melody in this song a Norwegian traditional? Interesting is the Scandinavian/Kurdish crossover composition Skandinavisk hilsen til den Kurdiske folk. Which shows that this is an album full of variation. A very nice album with a recognisable sound for those who like Færd, but with just some other influences and styles. A Danish/Norwegian/Faroese islands combination is the Trio Acoustica. This trio exists out of three guitarists/singers who sing songs in all kind of Scandinavian languages but also the Beatles song Norwegian wood. On this album a Vreeswijk song as well, this time; Deirdres samba. It’s easy listening acoustic guitar-folk. Nice (harmony) vocals and ditto finger-picking, but also a bit dull to be honest. Fin Alfred is a Danish troubadour who celebrates his 70th birthday this year. Seven years ago he won a Danish Grammy and with Sange fra min vadring he published his latest album with songs he learned throughout the years from fellow musicians and friends. Including some traditionals, but also songs from the past fifty years. On the album Alfred is backed by a bunch of fine musician including the known Morten Alfred Høirup. His deep voice sounds relaxed and give the music a friendly kind of atmosphere. He sings songs about the Danish history and daily life in a typical Danish way. Down to earth and without any finery, in a long tradition of singers. No bowing for modern folk interpretations, but just good old craftsmanship. The last album in this review is from the Triotinus. This trio exists out of Carl Erik Lundgaard on chromatic accordion ad mouth organ, Anders Ringgaard on trombone and Vagn Dahl Hansen on piano. This is the debut album of the band with fifteen traditional tunes. The band is called after a three brothers who were musicians and dancers from Jutland and called themselves Æ tinuser. The group stopped existing in 1983 after sixty years of performing. Triotinus brings the tunes back to life. Their goal is not to copy the way the three brothers played, but to give their own interpretation to it and make sure the tunes stay alive. What you get when buying this CD is real folk music. No modernisation of any kind, Danish traditional music close to the style in which it’s played for decades now. The repertoire exist mostly out of happy sounding dances with a frivolous accordion, rhythmic piano and the full sound of the trombone. This is the right album for those who are searching for the sound of good old Danish celebration-folk music.,,,,
Eelco Schilder

V/A "Ritual"
Scythian horn; 2008
A nice collection of ‘ritual’ songs on this CD song, or at least that is what I think it is. No webpage, no information about the label and a chaotic booklet which does contain some information about each group, but not about what connect them. The first CD contains several Russian groups and musicians, all in the bit dark/psych folk style. A dreamy traditional style song by Vnuki svyatoslava is particularity nice. There is some overtone singing by Vedank Kolod, a band from Siberia and one of the best on this double album. Beautiful is Irina Pyzh’yanova, vocals only but very powerful. This first CD ends with two songs by the folk-rock band Skolot with uplifting Russian music. Especially Feast shows some great Russian ethno-rock. The second CD only has a few Russian tracks, but mostly similar groups from all over the world. It’s a bit the same as the first CD. Some nice overtone music by Cheinesh this time, new-age style harp from Kestrel, pan flutes from Chile and bombastic music from the Belgian band Weiha. A two CD set which probably will be liked by all those who love the pagan, neo-folky-mystical movement. A pity that the layout is so messy and not all tracks are of the highest quality, but it has enough to offer to discover at least a few new bands.
Eelco Schilder

ulman "Electrokustica"
Westpark; 87174; 2009
Electrokustica is the latest album by the German band Ulman. It’s their third full length album which contains eleven new recordings. Ulman exists out of four musicians including diatonic accordion, violin, hurdy-gurdy, flutes and lots of percussion and samples. The opening track starts with a smooth accordion and percussion and reminds me a bit of the Gotan project’s first album. Although Ulman plays a little less tango and a little more jazzy style. What follows are two up-tempo instrumentals called Fast TP and Diego’s polska. Nice dance tunes with interesting arrangements and sometimes strong play. In Diego’s polska they start great, like early Hoven droven music, but somehow they let the melody drown in a bit to bombastic arrangement after my personal taste. Than a totally different rap-folk song called Wieder sehen and a more relaxed (although the title might suggest differently) folk tune called Elend und blut and the very nice, clearly Swedish inspired song Elins DnB which is one of the most balanced and best tracks on this album. From Nun, a nice jazzy-folk track, until the last track Valleby the band takes it a bit calmer and shows that they have many faces and a lot of creativity. This album has a lot to offer and absolutely not monotonous. But at a few moments I personally preferred a bit more unity in the concept of the album.
Eelco Schilder

The Mountain Firework Company "Samurai"
Label: Own label; 2008
The mountain firework company is a sextet with members from many corners of the UK. Frontman Gareth mcGahan comes out of a Belfast family and does the vocals, guitar and the song writing. Inspired by guitarists such as Davy Graham and Bert Jansch, he composes nice songs with influences from both sides of the Atlantic. Great start with Rolling river which is a easy going acoustic folk song without surprises. Follower is Love is a rose which starts as another straight on folky song, but has some nice subtle twists in the arrangement that really lift it to a higher standard. Nice is also the title song Samurai which fits perfectly to the opening track, it has the same style and atmosphere but with a good Irish violin sound added. From this moment on, after about five tracks, the album stops surprising me. The compositions stay in the same vein as before and I even hear some repeating themes and structures in the songs. Not that it gets bad, on the contrary, The mountain firework company shows to be a talented band with a good sound and a fine mixture of UK and US folk styles. But I also get the feeling they walk a bit in circles and forget to add some new ingredients towards the end of the album. Nevertheless a band I will be watching very closely in future, it has potential!
Eelco Schilder

Squisse "Les trios rives"
Label: Own label; 2008
The third album by the French/Breton band Squisse is called Les trios rives. Before this group impressed with their strong album Dual from 2007 which was recorded after five years of relatively silence. The new album is an adventures one with a strong mixture of traditional Breton sounds with rock, jazz, brass and so many other styles. In Test the band adds some oriental aspects which results in a groovy dance tune. Beautiful is the accordion piece Loudeango which indeed has the atmosphere of a classical tango but played in a more French accordion style. In Traffic they stay close to the Breton heritage, nice with this electric guitar sounding as a faraway thunderstorm approaching the musicians. This Les trios rives is a strong, varied album with nice melodies, creative thinking and strong play.
Eelco Schilder

Owl’s Ethnographic Orchestra "This life / after life"
Label: Origo/own label; 2006
This Latvian band is named after composer Valts Pūce who’s last name means Owl (that explains the name!) He gathered a top group of Latvian musicians around him including members of Ilgi, Rīgas kamermūziķi, Skandinieki, the Latvian national opera and many more. This all-star orchestra plays the composition šaizemē / taizemē which means this life / after life. The album was very well received in Latvia and was nominated for several prices and as I understand is seen as a landmark album in traditional music. The basic element are traditional songs and dances, played in a pleasant blend of folk, classical music, jazz and subtle electronic/rock elements. You might recognize a song like Sëj, braliti, kaņepĭtes as this has been recorded by Ilgi before. The orchestra tries to create a direct link between the old culture and modern possibilities. It can be best described as a bit calmer version of Ilgi, with the same vocal style and quality of performing. A light-footed album with easy going and well played ethnic-rock.
Eelco Schilder

Renato Borghetti "Fandango"
Felmay; 8147; 2009
Chango Spasiuk "Pynandi los descalzos"
Label: Harmonia Mundi/World Village; 468083; 2008
Two albums by master Accordionists. First, Renato Borghetti who is a Brazilian accordionist focusing on music from the Southern Rio grande do Sul region. In the traditional music from this part of the country, the accordion plays a central role, especially the regions own type of accordion called Gaita ponto. Borghetti has an impressive discography with recordings for known record labels. For his latest work Fandango he goes back to the basic elements of recording. No fancy studio, no high-tech equipment, but eleven songs recorded in a farmhouse on the countryside. The album is a tribute to everything that inspires him and that makes it one of his most direct and intense album. The opening track O pulo do grilo is a ‘feel good’ waltz with a jazzy feeling. Followed by Vitoria which is a sensitive composition full of tenderness. The same for Ninando which is a composition for his daughter and the lullabies he used to sing for her. Dance passion can be felt in Todo mundo correu and Ferrăo de marimbondo. This latest work of Borghetti shows the musician at his best. Rooted in the tradition of his home region, he mixes this with elements of jazz and world-folk and this way he creates an open minded style of music. Second album is from Chango Spasiuk the Argentinean (but with Ukrainian roots) master on accordion. He mixes Argentinean styles, including the tango of course, with East-European dances and tunes. His way of playing is much wilder than that from Borghetti. It’s sometimes like fire comes out of his music, sometimes burning flames, but other moments a small flame that keeps me warm inside. Most of the compositions are written by the master himself and show a passionate composer who has the capability to tell a story through his music. In a piece like the Suite nordest he mixes traditional styles with almost classical theme’s and goes from virtuous play to sober and small melodies. A fabulous album with strong compositions played by a fantastic musician backed by a great band of musicians.,
Eelco Schilder

Nynke Laverman "Nomade"
Label: Fama PRCD 200906; 2009
Nynke Laverman is a female singer from the Nordic Dutch region Friesland where they speak the Frisian language. Besides Dutch, the second official language spoken in the Netherlands. Laverman debuted in 2003 with a Fado album. Not in Portuguese, but indeed sung in the Frisian language. This album gave her immediate success and in a short time she became a much appreciate singer throughout the whole country. On her second album De maisfrou she sings poems from the Frisian poet Albertina Soepboer and shows a more South-American/Spanish style. Now her third album is released called Nomade. An album inspired by a trip she made to Mongolia, where she stayed for a while with a nomad family. Hearing this story you might expect an album full of throat singing and the rhythms of the horse on the steppe. Strangely enough this is her most Western influenced album. This time with own, very personal, material with beautiful lyrics and strong compositions. She mixes acoustic sounds with electronics and elements of brass music. The opening track is breath taking. De ûntdekker tells about a person who discovers the world and herself as it was the first time. An exploding composition with haunting strings, beating drums and a singer who gives everything she has. This is such a song that I have to hear five times in a row, day after day and each time it absorbs me into it’s own world. Listen to the beautiful, fragile final minute of this song, only vocals and the bass of an accordion. The same tension, but a bit less aggressive is the second song Net fertelle. This is about what you tell about your motherland in a far away country. Well sung accompanied by a sparkling dulcimer amongst other string instruments. Heechspanning is one of the more introvert songs and also one of my favourites. Laverman continues with building soundscapes and pictures in my head with Dream in which she uses the rhythm of a train in the night as a basic element of her music. Soft trombones at the background and layer by layer this song grows. Well, this review is getting much to long and I have only told about the first four songs while I easily could fill another page about the other eight. Laverman recorded her best album until today. A modern sound with strong vocals, great musicians and intriguing compositions. Highly recommended!
Eelco Schilder

Glima "Tårån"
Norcd; 0981; 2009
Glima is a new Norwegian traditional trio with hardangerfele, viola and cello. This string trio plays traditional Norwegian music in a mixture of traditional styles and chamber music. All three musicians have experience in both traditional , chamber and classical music. The music they play is typically Norwegian with the cello which creates a bridge between the tradition and the chamber string music. Besides that, they choose a very traditional and safe approach of the music. Well played and with the focus on technique and good harmony of sounds. Nice is Mosafinnhalling which I’m sure I have somewhere in my collection from another group. Is it Bukkene bruse? I’m not sure. Beautiful, sunny melody played in a virtuoso way. Nice that in a tune like Månekåsen it’s not the hardangerfele that takes the lead, but the cello is the solo instrument. Nice, heavy sound with those sparkling fele’s at the background. I have a bit mixed feelings with this Glima album. I love Norwegian music and they play it on a high level and with a nice extra touch. But it also sounds a bit clean and to polished after my taste.
Eelco Schilder

Parelmoer "Vloerwerk"
Label: Own label; 2008
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the Dutch folk group Parelmoer releases their latest album called Vloerwerk. Strangely enough no webpage or contact address is given so I can review this album, but I don’t have a clue where you can buy it. The band started as a group who wrote their own lyrics to traditional melodies. They still do that but also translate Dylan and write their own material. The band sings in the Limburg’s dialect, which is the most southern region of Holland. It’s music that will do great on local celebrations. Full of regional theme’s and deeply rooted in the long tradition of the regions music. The band mixes their (harmony) vocals and guitar with bagpipe, hurdy gurdy, tuba, flutes and accordion. The albums tarts uplifting with Kom met ôs mei a song which celebrates the first of may. They play tango in Tano van t’waore gezich, sing with Spanish moods in Doezend kleure and so on. Parelmoer isn’t a typically Dutch folk band. They just play what they like and take from folk, roots, brass, chanson and party music. It’s clear that they, even after 25 years, love what their doing and that is the charm of their music. It’s not always in balance, but brought with such devotion that it must be easy for them to entertain any party, festival or concert hall.
Eelco Schilder

Katerina Vlahou "Thalassaki"
Label: Playasound; 66412; 2009
Vlahou is a Thessaloniki born mezzo-soprano who focuses on the Greek vocal tradition. She got vocal training by famous Greek singers such as Nena Venetsanou and Katerina Papadopoulou. She is also a member of the French group Mandagore. On Thalassaki she arranged traditional songs into a kind of Greek middle of the road folk. With crystal clear vocals she sings her way to a big audience. I cant conclude otherwise than this is, technically spoken, perfectly arranged and sung music. She brings the Greek music like a glossy tourist brochure. Accentuating the beautiful sides of it and do everything to avoid any kind of dissonance. Vlahou is for all those musical tourists who don’t have a clue what the Greek musical tradition really is about. She gives you a quick listen and in such a way that nobody will be annoyed.
Eelco Schilder

V/A "Danses Tyroliennes"
Airmail music; SA 141177; 2009
Russkaya muzyka "Traditional music from Russia"
Label: ARC; EUCD 2200; 2009
Two albums on famous, more or less, ethnographic labels. First the famous budget label airmail music, with dances from Tyrol. Collected by Aline Taconnet who also plays the hackbrett (kind of dulcimer). Also accordion and citer pieces. These three instruments can be heard solo and in several kinds of combinations. It’s very stereotype Tyrolean music and has an ethnographic character. Like most Airmail music releases, interesting when you are into pure recordings of this specific region or instruments. Second is Russkaya muzkyka on the famous ARC label. This is one of their many Russian music orientated albums. The five musicians are specialists in polyphonic music from many Russian regions and includes songs Cossack, religious and folk songs and dances. Besides the polyphonic male and female songs also overtone flute solo’s, and songs accompanied by accordion and even a Russian hurdy gurdy. Although different style of music than the Tyrolean album, it has the same ethnographic character and is stereotype for the region.
Eelco Schilder

Sylvarnes / Vangen "Kong ring"
Label: Own label; 2007
This Norwegian duo exists out of Odd Sylvarnes Lund who plays the Bukkehorn (ram’s horn) and mouth harp. He is an Associate professor at the Norwegian academy of music and the past decade he did research focussed on ancient Norwegian wind instruments. On this album he works with Roar Vangen who is a guitarist who originally played (heavy) rock kind of music and since some years concentrated on composing music inspired by traditional Norwegian melodies. The duo was founded in 2004 and plays new compositions only, which are clearly rooted in the Norwegian tradition. Sylvarnes shows to be a master on the Bukkehorn, an instrument that not often is played at such a high level. Also his powerful play on the mouth harp surprises me. It’s amazing how many sounds, styles, rhythms and feelings he get out of these ancient instruments. What makes the CD even stronger is the perfect guitar play by Vangen, who shows to be a highly experienced musician with an own sound and a wonderful technique. Together they created an exciting album with solid compositions, performed with passion and real craftsmanship.
Eelco Schilder

Brass Monkey "Head of Steam"
Topic; TSCD575; 2009
Brass monkey was started somewhere during the eighties and contains a few of Britain’s finest musician including Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick. Their focus has been on a brass-folk interpretation of the English traditional music. Head of steam is their new album with ten new recordings. Starting with a Moldavian Scottish and a polka, both compositions from the 19th century. It breaths the atmosphere of and old dancehall, smooth dressed ladies dancing and an orchestra in smoking playing evening after evening. Than two songs The press gang and The Barbados lady from the Cecil Sharp collection. Two typical English songs with strong vocals and sober, but powerful musical arrangements. I like the way the brass section stays at the background but really puts it’s mark on the sound of the songs. After two songs some happy dances Lichfield tattoo, the Radstock jig and Quickstep from the Battle of Prague. Which shows a perfect match between the musicians and their instruments. Beautiful is The trees they do grow high a beautiful countryside story, one of my favourites. Same for the final song Nelson, the fallen hero & the death of Nelson composed by Nathaniel Gow. Tremendously strong sound and everything in perfect harmony. This can be considered as Brass monkey’s best album, they sound inspired and play with great craftsmanship and passion.
Eelco Schilder

Michal Müller "Zieget her"
Label: Own label; 2009
Michal Müller is a Zither player from Czech, who fell in love with the instrument when he was only thirteen years old. He graduated on classical zither at the conservatory in Vienna and has been part of several projects including soundtracks. Zieget her is his second solo album. He choose to play original material mostly and rearranged two traditional pieces. Müller shows an unexpected side of the instrument. The warm sound of the strings and his soft way of singing make this album a bringer of rest and peace. Müller mixes traditional themes with classical, jazz and blues influences. Only the man and his instrument, sober but powerful. Except for one song, Duuu on which he is backed by the female vocals of Katerĭna Fialová. Zieget her is such an album that makes you close your eyes and forget the daily stress.
Eelco Schilder

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