Norwegian World Expressions

Various Artists - Norway
Various Artists – Norway

Various Artists

Norway (Music Export Norway MENCD 015)

I find that most of the Norwegian music that gets to World Music Central’s hands is of extraordinary quality and this sampler distributed last year at WOMEX 2008 is no exception.  Norway World and Traditional, 2nd edition, released by Music Export Norway to promote Norwegian music productions, begins with what is one of the best tracks on the album. The duo Adjagas puts a different twist on traditional Sami [wiki:joik], by adding blues and electronic elements. The group is formed by Lawra Somby (male vocals) and Sara Marielle Gaup (vocals). “Joik is a rich tradition, and the repertoire of traditional joik is almost inexhaustible,” says Lawra Somby in an interview with Christian Lysvåg. “Still, we wanted to create new joiks, not just present traditional ones in a novel musical context. And I was actually surprised at how different the joiks we made turned out. It is important to stress that the joik itself, and certainly my version of it, is a matter of receiving an expression, and mediating the inner voice that a human experience has in itself. A strange fact is that sometimes the joik comes first, and then you realize to what feeling or experience the joik pertains afterwards. These things are hard to explain, but it is the way our music comes to life, and it was the way I conceived the material I contributed to our album.”  The album’s title is Adjagas. A new album is in the works.

Aw-Ofsdal-Sereba brings together Becaye Aw, Kouame Sereba and Steinar Ofsdal, a world music group that brings together musicians from Mauritania, Norway and the Ivory Coast. Their style is melodic and mesmerizing. Fulani musician Becaye plays and tunes the guitar in the West African style. Kouame plays dodo, an ancient mouth bow. Steinar uses the xun,   a Chinese terracotta wind instrument, used in China for more than 6300 years.

Diom de Kossa is an Ivorian master drummer, dancer and vocalist based in Oslo. His fiery style combines West African drums , call and response vocals and electric guitar. Touba is de Kossa’s CD, available in North America.

Tango’s tentacles have spread far. I knew Finland has a thriving tango scene, but I was not as familiar with Norwegian tango. Electrocutango is not your usual tango, as the name implies. Ity is the project of multi-instrumentalist Sverre Indris from Oslo, who creates a thrilling mix of chill out sounds with bandoneon tango melodies. The cut on this compilation is from the CD Felino.

The sampler turns traditional with the soft a cappella style of Ingvill Marit Buen Garnås and male vocalist Jon Anders Halvorsen, who sing in the Telemark tradition of Norway. Ingvill Marit Buen Garnås has two recordings available, På Grønalihei” (Nyrenning, 2003) and Gåtesong (Etnisk Musikklubb, 2005).

On “Ya lel atwalak – this never ending night” Renowned Norwegian singer Kari Bremnes sings in English with the lovely and evocative Palestinian singer Rim Banna, who sings in Arabic. Rim Banna’s recordings include The Mirrors of My Soul, This Was Not My Story and Lullabies from the Axis of Evil.

Sound experimentalist, composer and reputable tenor saxophonist Karl Seglem provides a blend of groundbreaking folk-rooted jazz and electronics, using sax, goat horn, percussion and electronics. His CDs include New North, Urbs and Reik.

Norwegian Kirsten Bråten Berg (vocals, jew’s harp), Sweden’s Lena Willemark (vocals, violin, viola), and Danish percussionist Marilyn Mazur join forces on “Varulven” in a mesmerizing exercise of vocals and percussion. their CD is titled Stemmenes Skygge (Heilo).

Chameleonic guitarist Knut Reiersrud is one of the finest electric blues guitarists in northern Europe. On “Is My Living in Vain”, he blends and R&B with echoes of Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa and Prince.

Kvarts is one of the most innovative folk bands in Norway. In addition to Norwegian folk traditions, the band incorporates Celtic and bluegrass influences. Kvarts includfes guests vocalists  Berit Opheim and Sondre Bratland.

Majorstuen represent some of the new blood in the rich tradition of Norwegian fiddling. The line-up of this young fiddle ensemble includes fiddles, viola and cello. Recording include Juledrøm (MFC, 2006), Jorun Jogga (MFC, 2004), Majorstuen (2L, 2002).

The fiddle fest continues with Møldestad, Mjølsnes and Høgemo. All three musicians play the fabulous [wiki:hardanger] fiddle.

For a more traditional apperoach, Jon Faukstad and Per Sæmund Bjørkum present fiddle and accordion dance music.

Spindel is led by two fiddlers Sigrid Moldestad on Hardanger fiddle, fiddle and vocals and Liv Merete Kroken on Hardanger fiddle and fiddle. In their lkiove concerts and recordings they are joined by additional musicians, including Olav Tveitane: cister, guitar, double bass and vocals; Dagfinn Andersen: harmonium, piano and vocals;and Ivar Kolve: percussion and marimba. Discography: Aminje (Grappa 2005) and Spindel (Grappa 2001).

The String Sisters is a supergroup of female fiddlers from various parts of the world. Shetland’s “fiddle queen” Catriona MacDonald got a special commission from the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. She assemble some of the world’s leading female fiddlers. The Norwegian connection is Annbjørg Lien. The other sisters are: Catriona MacDonald from Shetland, Liz Carroll and Liz Knowles from the United States of America, Mairead ni Mhaonaigh (from the acclaimed Irish folk-band Altan) and Emma Härdelin from Sweden. Härdelin took the place of original member Natalie MacMaster from Canada.

Fiddler Susanne Lundeng combines Norwegian folk, jazz and contemporary instrumental elements.

Terje Isungset, a renowned jazz and folk percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Norway, provides a minimalist piece titled “Morning.”

One of the most fascinating voices in Norway’s current scene is the hauntingly beautiful Unni Lodlid, who practices a style that I would call dark folk, which has connections with ambient music and even Gregorian chant. Her recordings include Rite and Vita

Klezmer music has expanded from central and eastern Europe to other parts of the continent and now reaches Scandinavia. Urban Tunells Klezmerband presents a Norwegian vision of klezmer music. The group includes Sondre Meisfjord, Morten Michelsen, Tor Petter Aanes, Jovan Pavlovic and Stig Rennestraum.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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