Somewhere in that patch of cosmos where Vivaldi, Satie and the Oyster Band meet, you could get out an ear-telescope and spot this wonderful set of genre-blending tunes.
Label: Vertical Records
Time: 11 tracks / 40 minutes
Those who took up my recommendation for the Danish String Quartet’s Last Leaf album on ECM might be interested to know that this Scandinavian band’s fiddle player is from the same group. This instrumental release is on a different label and shares different players, but has a similar blend of genres, this one also being a mix of folk and classical.
Not that genres particularly help. On Part One of the title track, for instance, the fiddle pays a slow folk tune with a traditional dance edge, but underlying it is some intertwining piano playing, which leads into some music that is the audio equivalent of a gleaming shaft of light in a forest. The palette is far broader than those two labels cover.
What also makes it so fresh is that, although this is a trio, they play a lot of different instruments between them. Apart from those already mentioned, they use cittern, double bass, bass drum, harmonium, synthesizers, vibraphone, organ, accordion, spinet and kokle. The latter is a Latvian zither, and this – together with judicious use of a toy piano – creates some sparkling and magical sounds at times.
The result is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of sounds and textures. Some of the quieter playing at the end is absolutely gorgeous.
But don’t let me give the impression that this is just about tones. There are plenty of tunes here and tracks that have oodles of character. “Opus 2.5” is a jaunty, piano–led classical dance piece with a beautiful theme; "Kitchen Stories," a highlight among highlights, works with two themes of different speeds; “Meanwhile” is as drifting and ambient as the name suggests; while the sprightly "Then We Waltzed" has an equally apt title. The brooding, mournful “Foreseen” adds the only darker piece to offset the lightness elsewhere. Even the 27 second “Draft” is worth including.
These players have worked out that a great band is more than the sum of its parts. Coming across this one has been a real delight.