FolkWorld #56 03/2015

CD & DVD Reviews

Grand Fatilla "Global Shuffle"
Own label, 2014

Artist Video

The US quartet Grand Fatilla focuses originally on Gypsy related styles. This new album takes them on a trip around the world. On accordion, mandolin, percussion, bass and vocals, the four musicians create an easy going world-jazz kind of music. With influences from many corners of the world, the band succeeded in recording a well-balanced and strongly played album. They bring together East-European Gypsy-brass, tango, South-European passion with jazz, Americana and aspects of popular music. This results in a well-played and accessible album that will be liked by a wide audience.
© Eelco Schilder

Ryzykanci "Hole I turnicki"
Tercet, 2009

Białopotocanie "Z dunajecka fala"
Tercet, 2009

Goranie "Wieczor z Czardaszem"
Tercet, 2003

Chudoba "Live"
Own label, 2014

In this review a bunch of Polish releases starting with a six years old album by the band Ryzkanci On their album called Hole I turnicki they play traditional songs in folk pop style. Ideal for a party, nicely played but with a big focus on the middle or the road folk-pop audience.
Another old release comes from the band Białopotocanie. On their album Z dunajecka fala they show the more traditional sound of Polish traditional music. Their versions of the traditional tunes on violins and vocals are sparkling and intriguing. I have heard some melodies before, but don’t know where. The combination of the harmony violins and the deeper sound of the male vocals match really well and give a beautiful picture of the music from the Polish mountains. Nice one!
Finally, an album that is twelve years old. Goranie recorded this in 2003 and the album contains some neat Polish popular folk. Decently played by a band on accordion, bass, guitar and violin all gathered around singer Mirosława Topór. What you get are some dances, a few ballads sung in a popular way. Three old releases, no English info available which makes it very hard to give you the right background information, when interested in reaching an international audience I think it is essential to make information available in a more international way.
Let’s end with a new album from 2014 by Chudoba. These live recordings made in Gdansk gives a picture of the bands repertoire and career that started over twenty years ago. A combination of tunes and traditional songs from Poland, Ukraine, Rumania, Macedonia, Russia etc. The raw recordings show a band that plays from the heart, but it also sounds a bit messy at moments. They choose a popular approach with a focus on the songs and the stories that they tell. Unfortunately this band has the same problem as the earlier three in this review, getting solid information about their background is really hard, a pity!
© Eelco Schilder

Arturo Stàlteri suona battiato "In sete altere"
Felmay, 2014

La Yne "La grande illusion"
Musea, 2014

Nathan Riki Thomson "Shaped by the Sea"
Sibelius Academy, 2014

Jack Gates "Voyage of the Troubadour"
Own label, 2014

Nenad Vasilic "Seven"
Galileo MC, 2012

Arturo Stàlteri recorded a piano album with compositions of the composer Franco Battiato. Playing the piano and backed by Yamaha, drums and percussion, he shows the hypnotising power of the compositions. It’s not really an album suitable for FolkWorld, but when you are into intriguing piano music, this is an interesting album. Stàlteri is a master on the instruments and the compositions are amazingly good to me, but then I’m far from an expert on piano music.
La Yne is a project around the Finnish composer Matti Laine. On his album he mixes jazz with pop, rock, prog and roots sounds from several parts of the world. Sometimes the vibes of the eighties, on other moments it’s like seventies progressive, but mainly its symphonic electronica. For me to artificial and it even sounds a bit forced at moments. An album with beautiful moments, but also a bit messy and unbalanced.
Nathan Riki Thomson shows his quality as a bass player and multi-instrumentalist on the album Shaped by the Sea. Together with an impressive group of musicians from many corners of the world, Thomson created an intriguing album. Almost completely self-composed, he takes the listener on a jazzy journey over the sea, islands and crossing borders. Each composition has its own unique sound, but also fit together like a small puzzle. From Latin rhythms, to mystic Nordic sounds. From folk-jazz flutes to deep bass lines and free vocals. I think Thomson succeeded in creating an appealing jazz cross over album of high quality. This Austrian born musician shows how to mix styles in a natural way and create a nice, own sound.
Guitarist and composer Jack Gates shows some craftsmanship on this guitar orientated album. A moody album with strong fingerpicking and occasionally added vocals. A light mixture of folk and jazz, relaxing and intimate sound. Nice one!
Nenad Vasilić‘s star has been rising during the past few years. His bass play can be heard on several solo albums and on albums by other artists. This is a three years old album on which he plays nine original compositions. He originally comes from Serbia and that can be heard in his music, a blend of Balkan folk and jazz but also other world music influences. Like his previous output an album of high quality with a strong crossover of world and jazz. Might be interesting to invite for the next Music Meeting festival in Nijmegen, Holland?
© Eelco Schilder

Hornroh "Modern Alphornquartet"
Phonag Records, 2014

For those who think the Alphorn is an instrument that creates stereotype sound sonly, this is your album. This quartet, all playing the alphorn, shows the many sides of the instrument in a convincing way. Even the old tunes get a fresh and modern sound. Sometimes almost classical, other moments hypnotizing of even slightly rocking. Nice for a first acquaintance or for lovers of this rare instrument.
© Eelco Schilder

Chris Stout & Catriona McKay "Seavaigers"
Own label, 2014

Artist Video

Stout and McKay are a duo from Scotland/the Shetlands with a deep interest and roots into Scottish traditional music. They have been playing together for over twenty years now and recorded several albums. On this latest one called Seavaigers the duo on violin and harp is joined by a string orchestra called The Scottish ensemble. The album exists of two parts, the first part is the title song and composed by Sally Beamish who, exclusively for this duo, composed a concerto. The second part is an own composed concerto which the two musicians wrote for this unique combination of their craftsmanship and the Scottish Ensemble. This results in a calm, delicate album full with traditional elements but with a chamber music approach. In an intimate atmosphere the musicians recorded an album that needs time to reveal all its quality. Music that can’t be listened to when in a hurry, but deserves a listener that has time and attention and appreciates innovative chamber-folk of high quality.
© Eelco Schilder

Claudia Schwab "Amber Sands"
Own label, 2014

Artist Video

Being a six years old daughter of a father who writes about music now and then and prefers music rooted in tradition, must be hard sometimes. It’s a pity I didn’t film her face when I played this album for the first time. She looked at me, decided not to say anything and went upstairs to listen to ‘normal’ music. Which, I personally think, is a compliment for Claudia Schwab, because her album is a wonderful piece of art with a very own sound and style. Schwab lives in Ireland for some years now but originally comes from Austria. She got interested in music from several parts of the world including Sweden, India, Irish, Eastern Europe and Austria of course. Being part of various projects, Amber sands is her first solo album. With ten original compositions (and a Remix as a bonus) Sands shows her quality as a creative composer and highly talented musician. Starting fabulously with some modern yodel folk rock. Well played, slightly edgy and a tiny avant-garde. Her melodic violin play and strong voice convince from the first moment and together with the fine selection of musicians she makes Yodel music modern and happening. Her Indian and Celtic interests can be heard in the wonderful As she went down to the river Which has a nice psychedelic touch, but has the soul of an old Celtic ballad which tells a slightly sad story. What follows are two nice traditional orientated tunes and Sunday at home a nice soundscape of a lazy Sunday with sounds of birds, smooth rhythms and hypnotizing melody. After this moment of relaxation its back to the crossover styles with Austro-Indian music from Sweden (or the other way around) Here Schwab shows how easily she mixes traditions into a well-balanced natural sound. Back to some laziness in the Latin/Indian yodel song Currybbean and a Swedish sounding violin piece. Finally waking up again with the remix of the Jodelfunk openings track with nice heavy beats this time. What a dream of a debut album. Schwab shows her many sides as a musician and composer and in a creative, innovative way she creates some create crossover styles and mixes modern music with traditional sounds from different cultural heritage. One of the top albums of 2014, time for a vinyl version I think…..
© Eelco Schilder

Sväng "Karja-La"
Galileo MC, 2014

Artist Video

From Finland the latest album by the masters of chromatic and diatonic harmonicas. I have reviewed them before[44] and each time I think, oh no ... not another hour of harmonica music and each time this quartet intrigues me and surprises me with their well-played, music, strong compositions and the hear able pleasure they have in making music. This new album is a trip around the world with Romanian styled music that puts a smile on your face, a more serious tango, uplifting polska, a bluesy wedding tune and more. With a totally different atmosphere than their former album, these four musicians do it again and recorded an album with some great music and they proof to be probably the best Chromatic/diatonic only band worldwide.
© Eelco Schilder

Dobrek Bistro "3"
Dobrecords, 2014

Artist Video

Centred around the Polish accordionist Krysztof Dobrek, this creative quartet recorded the third Dobrek Bistro album. Together with six guest musicians Dobrek, Biz, Lackner and Ribeiro recorded their best album until now. Eight original compositions full with elements of rock, jazz, world, traditional and more. Played with passion and craftsmanship. Starting with the dreamy sound of Matthias Lobner’s Hurdy gurdy and goes from beating world-rock to intimate Tango sounds, Eastern-European Dulcimer sounds and sunny cross-European melodies. Bringing out the best of the musicians in combination with their own passion and the strong composing qualities of Dobrek, makes this a great album which many will enjoy a lot.
© Eelco Schilder

The Playfords "The Hunt is Up"
Raumklang, 2015

Dapper’s Delight "Disguising"
Karma lab, 2014

Two early music styled albums starting with the German band The Playfords. On this new album they play tunes and ballads from the plays of William Shakespeare. With vocals and typical early-music instruments such as the recorder, lute, viola da gamba etc. The group did a nice attempt to bring the atmosphere of the 16th century, when the most of the tunes and ballads were composed, a live. It’s early folk music that not all folk lovers will appreciate. It has a different sound and style, naked, sober and with the focus on the story to tell. Well played, strong vocals and clearly a group that knows what they are doing and love the ballads and tunes they are bringing.
From Holland comes Dapper’s Delight, a duo from Amsterdam on vocals, recorder and concertina. On this second album they recorded a new collection of songs and dances mainly from the English early music repertoire. You hear Morris dances, ballads, Playford and Cecil Sharp tunes and much more. This second album is a big step forwards. Where the first one was nice, but also a bit unbalanced and somehow gave the feeling that it was not yet ready to be issued, this second output is so much better. The instruments match perfectly, the sound is really well balanced and the two musicians bring out the soul of each song and dance in a wonderful way. I do hope that they keep progressing like this and for now I’m enjoying this fine new album with pleasure.
© Eelco Schilder

Vetras Saites "Teatra Krustojums"
Lauska, 2012

Founded in 2008, the Latvian ensemble Vetras Saites plays what they call ‘photo-ambient chamber music’. Well, hard to imagine what that is, until you hear their three years old album called Teatra krustojums. On the Latvian traditional string instrument the kokles, guitar and djembe the band brings ambient sounds with elements of tradition, jazz, chamber music and contemporary sounds. It’s like music that belongs to pictures, a movie or a play. They paint emotions with their compositions. They keep their music small and sometimes slightly minimalistic. It’s a calming album that is pleasant to listen to, although I personally think the effect of their music would be bigger if they leave the 3 minutes format and take more time to really express a theme or a mood. Now a tune is over as soon as the ‘mood’ is transferred to me as a listener. Nevertheless a nice album, I’m looking forward to hear some of their more recent output.
© Eelco Schilder

Reelroad "Past the gates"
Own label, 2014

Vladimir Denissenkov "Feeling & Passion"
Felmay, 2014

Some new Russian albums starting with the fourth album of the Russian folk-rock band Reelroad on which the seven musicians and a fine bunch of guest musicians treats us on a fine mixture of Russian tradition and rock. Twelve recordings from the past years give a brief view on the unique sound of Russian modern traditional music. Reminding me occasionally of the way the Latvian group Ilgi[48] interpretates the Latvian tradition, while on other moments they sing more traditional sounding ballads or play uplifting dance tunes. Fine (harmony) vocals are backed by ancient and modern instruments, in great balance and in a well-produced sound. I think one of the best bands since I first saw the Farlanders[11][14] over ten years ago.
From seven musicians to a Russian solist. Vladimir Denissenkov is a virtuoso on the accordion and on this new album he recorded some old and new material, almost all of them are original compositions. After finishing the Moscow conservatory he played for many years with the Moscow Philharmonic and the past years he has done many projects in Italy, which might explain why the album is issued on the Italian Felmay label. Denissenkov shows his craftsmanship on a fabulous way. Sometimes as fast as sound can travel, on other moments tender and intense. He mixes Russian themes with Italian sounds and other global sounds and rhythms. Some slight classical influences and this master on accordion shows why he is considered as one of the best Russian accordion players. On this personal album he brings all his experiences together in a passionate 45 minutes of solo music.
© Eelco Schilder

Catch-Pop String-Strong "2"
Collegno, 2014

After a debut album that got great reviews and exciting audience at their live performance, the Catch-pop string-strong duo is back with a new album. Rina Kaçinari and Jelena Popržan bewitch their audience again with a wonderful collection of new recordings. On cello, viola and vocals only the two musicians take you on a journey through their own universe. With enough energy for a symphonic orchestra the duo mixes free style jazz with world, pop, classical and folk sounds. They mix new compositions with old songs and tunes in a totally natural way. Their vocal and instrumental art brings you from Austria to the Balkans and back. Their music is theatrical without getting to dramatically. They amuse with their unexpected sounds and twists and their high doses of creativity and craftsmanship. Not for those who like traditional music, but great for those who like musician that enjoy colouring outside the lines.
© Eelco Schilder

Tetra "Viv Tolerans"
Footprint, 2013

Artist Video

The Swedish based vocal groups Tetra consists out of four female singers with roots into folk and world music. Together with a fine selection of guest musicians they recorded this fine collection of international songs. All four have a background in different traditional styles like Scandinavian, Greek, Haitian and Iraq. With guests from all over the world, including Ale Möller, Adama Cissokho, Jonas Simonson and Ahmad Al-Khatib, this quartet takes you on a vocal trip around the world. Starting outstanding with the Norwegian traditional mixed with a Greek folk tune. A very exciting blend of styles, sounds and rhythms with haunting vocals, to my opinion the best track on the album. What follows are nice, well played and passionate interpretations of global traditional pieces from Sudan, Macedonia, Greece, Haiti, Norway and beyond. All well played and attractive, but without this outstanding blend of styles of the opening track. Tetra shows their passion for music and their quality as musicians and this is an album of high quality but It also leaves me with the feeling that this band is capable of taking music to a higher level. I think that they have the quality to bring styles, sounds, musicians and traditions together and reach a kind of Synergy out of which a new, fresh original style could be created. I do hope they take the risk, challenge themselves more and more and will amaze the world with a second album full of tracks like the earlier mentioned one. They have all the potential to do so.
© Eelco Schilder

Xarnege "Talka tum"
Own label, 2014

Their 2010 album Ixo sho was one of the best albums of 2010 and still one of my all-time favourite Basque albums.[42] With music from the Basque and Gascon border, the band reflects a unique and inspiring traditional style. Their new album is called Talka tum and contains eight new recordings in their very own Xarnege style. The five musicians dived deep into the tradition and created a modern variation on the old melodies and tunes. With typical Xarnege rhythms and arrangements they create an almost rock sound on acoustic and sometimes ancient instruments. Full of passion they go from upbeat dances to darkish songs and hypnotising vibes. The album is not as surprising as their last one, I got more familiar to the sound, but they deepen their style and show that they are still one of the best bands from that area.
© Eelco Schilder

Anne Hytta "Draumsyn"
Carpe diem records, 2014

Benedicte Maurseth & Åsne Valland Nordli "Over tones"
ECM records, 2014

Marit Steinsrud & Stein Villa "Kammersmusikk"
Etnisk musikklubb, 2014

Ljom "Seterkauk"
Kirkelig kulturverksted, 2014

A bunch of Norwegian folk albums, starting with Anne Hytta and her album Draumsyn . Hytta was a student from famous hardanger fele players such as Knut Buen and Einar Løndal. She plays in several ensembles and this album is her first solo output. Don’t expect a traditional Hardanger album, Hytta brings a whole different dimension into her solo music. Her original compositions are small, minimalistic soundscapes. With elements of tradition she creates a wonderful, intimate modern sound. Her deep, warm sound has a slight dark edge. It’s like wandering among the mountains on your own, meeting ice, waterfalls and rocks. As if she paints the sky, the earth and the water with her instrument. Delicate, controlled and with her hearth into the music. A fine first solo album by a musician that likes to walk new paths.
The second Hardanger Fele album comes from Benedicte Maurseth and Åsne Valland Nordli. This duo on Hardanger fele and voice, creates a different atmosphere. In a mixture of traditionals and original compositions they create a more traditional, sometimes almost sacral, sound. They go from more stereotype Hardanger melodies to free sounding compositions. Well played, slightly jazzy at moments. A fine mixture of tradition and new musical ideas.
Marit Steinsrud and Stein Villa recorded on their album Kammersmusikk nineteen traditional pieces on a variation of traditional and a bit lesser traditional instruments. Pure, close to the tradition they show material from the hearth of Norway’s musical culture. On instruments such as the langeleik, accordion, Nordic bagpipe, guitar, harp and more. An intimate folk album that impresses in its simplicity and lightness. For those who like the more traditional stuff.
Next is a young quintet called Ljom. The five musician collected tunes from the mountains around Snåsa and recorded them in their own way. This results into an album with easy going folk-pop with jazzy influences. You can hear the Norwegian tradition in the songs, in the way the vocals are arranged or the instrumental parts are constructed. After hearing it a few times I still don’t know if I like the album or not. Somehow the songs lack a sort of unity and at moments the vocals are beautiful, while at other moments it sounds a bit forced. Sometimes it’s a bit too much mainstream relaxation folk-jazz after my taste, while at other moments they dare to colour a little bit outside the lines and it sounds more interesting. Maybe that is it, maybe that is why I find it hard to give an opinion about the album. It’s to brave for me, too predictable and I’m constantly waiting for something extraordinary to happen, but it doesn’t happen. Ljom is a group that likes to make easy going lounge-folk/jazz that is great for a nice and quiet evening of music, but I rather get challenged a bit more.
© Eelco Schilder

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