Spanish vocalist, nyckelharpa player and composer Ana Alcaide performed at the RaInforest World Music Festival on Saturday, July 13 at the Theatre Stage.
Ana’s music encapsulates Spanish traditional music, Sephardic traditions and global music influences. She and some of her colleagues live in Toledo, an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage that used to be the capital of Spain before it moved to nearby Madrid.
Three cultures lived in Toledo during the Middle Age: Christians, Jews and Muslim Moors. Ana Alcaide draws from this deep historic well and delighted the audience in Sarawak with her captivating vocals and enthralling nyckelharpa, a remarkable Swedish instrument that has adapted well to Spanish traditions.
The band featured Spain-based musicians from Germany and the United States: Rainer Seiferth on guitar and Bill Cooley on darbuka, frame drum and psaltery; and Spanish musician Bruno Duque on clarinet and ney.
Peter Puma Hedlund is one of leading exponents of the nyckelharpa in the world today. A composer and one of the main forces in the revival of the nyckelharpa and its music, he is a well respected and sought after instructor as well as performance artist on this unusual traditional folk instrument. Peter’s CDs are released on the independent label RPM Music which he started together with Rita Leydon a Swedish born American who also co-produces Peter’s instructional DVDs.
“What sets Peter apart from the rush of younger Swedish harpa players is that he’s not trying to appeal to anyone, Leydon explains, he simply remains true to his roots and his music while at the same time expanding and evolving. The music is so lovely and his skill at presenting it is so exceptional that it needs no embellishing no dressing up no gimmicks.”
The nyckelharpa is a traditional Swedish instrument that has been played in one form or another for more than 6 years and just barely escaped extinction in the mid-1900s. Interest in the nyckelharpa and its music has exploded all over the world in recent years primarily in the USA but also in Japan France England Canada and Italy.
Johan Hedin was born on December 10, 1969 in Trekanten, Sweden. He plays nyckelharpa oktavnyckelharpa (octave keyfiddle), octave mandola and is also a vocalist. He’s a well-known nyckelharpa player who is admired for his way of handling the instrument.
For many years he has worked on developing the keyed fiddle as an instrument for example by making several new models in different registers. He usually plays in small intimate constellations or as a soloist in various contexts.
Hedin has recorded with numerous artists, including Bazar Blå. He is also part of the duo Hazelius – Hedin, along with Esbjörn Hazelius.
Angel Archipelago (1998) Innersta polskan (2004)
Om du ville människa heta, with Hazelius – Hedin (2011)
Sunnan, with Hazelius – Hedin (2014)
Väsen plays Swedish folk music with complex arrangements, with one foot firmly planted in the Swedish fiddle tradition, and the other in new acoustic music. The pieces are equally suitable for dancing, as well as for listening.
The instruments used include the nyckelharpa (a keyed fiddle unique to Sweden), viola, twelve-string guitar, and percussion. Rock, jazz, traditional, and classical influences weave together, making a music that’s beautiful but never too sweet. You always hear the inspiration and improvisation of the moment: “Playing’s got to be fun, and the audience has to have fun, too.”
In 1980, Olov Johansson (nyckelharpa) and Mikael Marin (viola) met as teenagers, and began to play together. Nine years later, Olov and Mikael met Roger Tallroth (guitar) in Roros, Norway. They played all night, and when finishing in the early morning hours, were offered a recording contract by the record label, Drone.
A first CD, Olov Johansson: Väsen, was released in 1990. Väsen was actually the title of the record, but when calls began coming in and promoters inquired after the group called Väsen, the musicians realized the name was already established.
In 1994, a group called Nordman made the Swedish charts, mixing rock and folk music. Väsen went on tour twice with Nordman. On the first tour, they met Andre Ferrari (percussion), who played the drums. They quickly became good friends and Andre performed on occasion with Väsen. Two years later, Andre became a permanent member of the group.
Väsen released its fifth CD, Varldens Väsen, in 1997. They toured Norway, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, and Sweden. They signed a recording contract with NorthSide, and toured the United States of America and Canada.
Varldens Väsen was awarded a Swedish award in the category of Folk music/Ballad, 1998. They toured many parts of Europe and went on tour for the second time in North America.
Väsen’s first 4 discs released in Sweden and Europe are compiled on their American debut Spirit (NorthSide), plus live tracks and unreleased studio sessions.
The Väsen live experience was recorded during their unforgettable performance at the 2000 Nordic Roots Festival on Live at the Nordic Roots Festival. The band was joined by Norwegian fiddler Annbjorg Lien on Roger Tallroth’s Dragos and by the “bad fiddles from Sweden” Harv (Magnus Stinnerbom & Daniel Sand?n-Warg) on Polska After Mats Berglund / Sold or Sale.
In the fall of 2002, Väsen made a brief tour of the U.S. without percussionist Andre Ferrari, just as the original trio that they were from when the band was started in 1989 up until 1996 when Andre joined. Initially the idea of the tour was to play some older, pre-quartet material that they had not played for some time. But as they got together to rehearse, they realized that they all had new material which lent itself quite well to trio arrangements. The result was an entire set of new material, and the audiences loved it.
The tour was such a success that the band decided to do more regular trio tours in the future, as well as continuing with their quartet work. Regular trio performances called for a new trio CD which represented what the band was currently playing. And that’s how the Trio CD was born. The enhanced CD includes two videos of live Trio performance from the 2002 Nordic Roots Festival.
Keyed Up maintains a loose and fresh approach, capturing the band’s unique balance of structure and improvisation by keeping things “live” in the studio.
In January, 2005 the Väsen trio returned to Japan for their second tour, and their 3-night stand in Tokyo was recorded for posterity by their Japanese record company. Those performances, it turns out, were among the strongest in the band’s history, which says quite a bit for a 16-year old ensemble known for its great live show.
Väsen compiled Live in Japan, a selection of 17 tracks which draw heavily from their two recordings Trio and Keyed Up. A bonus “home movie” DVD is included, which contains interviews covering the history of the band, band-shot video clips from over the years, and exclusive live performance clips.
Väsen Musicians: Olov Johansson on nyckelharpa; Mikael Marin on viola; Roger Tallroth on guitar; and Andre Ferrari on percussion.
In 2019, Väsen released Rule of 3, a collection of 15 new original compositions.
* Olov Johansson: Vasen (Drone DROCD001, 1990) * Vilda (Drone DROCD004, 1992) * Essence (Auvidis Ethnic B6787, 1994) * Levande (Drone DROCD009, 1995) * Spirit, compilation (NorthSide NSD 6004, 1997) * Whirled (Northside, 1997) * Varldens (Europe: Xource/MNW XOUCD118 / US: NorthSide NSD 6006, 1997) * Gront (Europe: Xource/MNW XOUCD126 / USA: NorthSide NSD 6041, 1999) * Live at the Nordic Roots Festival (NorthSide NSD 6065, 2001) * Trio (NorthSide NSD 6077, 2003) * Keyed Up (NorthSide NSD 6080, 2004) * Live in Japan (2005) * Linnaeus Väsen (Northside Records, 2007) * Mike Marshall & Darol Anger with Väsen (Adventure Music, 2007) * Väsen Street (Northside Records, 2009) * Brewed (Northside Records, NSD7100, 2017) Rule of 3 (Northside Records, 2019)
Ana Alcaide is a Spanish multi-instrumentalist, composer and music producer who carries out research on ancient traditions and cultures.
At the age of seven she took up classical violin and began her lifelong journey in music. She studied at the Getafe Conservatory of Music (Madrid province) and later at Lund University (Sweden).
She has received formal scientific and musical training in several countries (Spain, Sweden and Mexico) and holds a biology degree with a specialization in botany from the Complutense University in Madrid.
Her investigative spirit has led her to carry out a wide range of projects, including the study of mushrooms found in the Baja California Desert and the filming of bird nests in Scandinavian forests. It is this same determination that fuels her desire to research ancient musical instruments and repertoires.
After being awarded a biology scholarship in 2000, Ana traveled to Sweden where she first laid hands on the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish instrument that dates from medieval times. Attracted by the complexity and depth of its sound, Ana taught herself how to play the nyckelharpa on the streets of Toledo (Spain), far from its traditional setting.
In 2005 she returned to Sweden to further pursue her music studies and to specialize in this Swedish folk instrument. During this time she was also influenced by other musical traditions and began studying other instruments and vocal techniques.
She graduated from Malmö Academy of Music (Bachelor in Performing Arts) after successfully completing an individualized program (Individual Project) in which she focused on world music, combining her interest in traditional music with the study of more modern techniques. This has allowed her to construct her own path as both a performer and a composer.
As a result of her profound connection and experimentation with the nyckelharpa, Ana published her debut album Viola de Teclas in 2006. She has played a pioneering role in introducing and popularizing the nyckelharpa in Spain.
Her second album, Como la luna y el sol, was the result of the final degree project she completed while at the Malmö Academy of Music. This album offers listeners Ana’s unique vision of traditional Sephardic music.
In late 2009 she compiled her first three years of work on the DVD Ana Alcaide en concierto, which was filmed in a historic Jewish temple (Synagogue of ‘El Tránsito’ – Toledo, Spain) alongside her usual collaborators.
In 2012, after taking time off to have her first child, Ana released her third album, La cantiga del fuego. Composed during her pregnancy, this album marks a major turning point in her professional and personal life. La cantiga del fuego is inspired by the ancient Sephardic traditions with stories about impossible love between Jews and Christians, ancient Toledo legends and the exile voyages of the Sephardim.
Ana has been able to balance her studies and music projects with her life in Toledo, where she decided to settle in 2001 to resume her music studies. This city where Christians, Jews and Muslims used to live in harmony is a daily source of inspiration for Ana and greatly influences her music, which is commonly described as the ‘Toledo Soundtrack’.
La cantiga del fuego reached the top of the World Music Charts Europe in 2012. Originally a self-release, the album was picked up by British label ARC Music for international release.
Being a self-styled traditionalist doesn’t mean my musical tastes are so staunch that I shun any sonic adventurousness that steps over traditional boundaries. Cross the line into an over-reliance on gimmickry (which can take the form of too much technology or pop pandering for commercial purposes), and you’ve lost me. Taking chances by mixing traditions or styles in ways that leave musical integrity unscathed? You’ve got my attention.
Aziza Brahim, a Sahrawi woman who was born in an Algerian refugee camp as the war over the Western Sahara region was raging, doesn’t exactly go in for traditional Sahrawi music on Abbar el Hamada (Glitter Beat, 2016). Having lived and studied in Cuba and currently a citizen of Spain, some of her songs have an expected, and very welcome, Iberian and Latin edge. She even sings in Spanish for much of the album, the title of which refers to rocky desert landscapes and subject-wise deals with activist concerns like the ongoing plight of the Sahrawi.
The disc also digs into a measure of the “desert blues” sound that many Saharan musicians have become known for, as well as a few galloping rhythms that suggest a more laid back version of Senegalese m’balax (which has always had its own Latin flavors).
Brahim isn’t as frequent in her use of wailing, undulating tones as a lot singers with Arabic roots tend to be. Her approach is more pensive, but she sharpens her tone when needed, and partly because she also plays the bowl-shaped tbal drum while she sings, her voice fits the grooves as naturally as the grooves themselves, be they acoustic or electric. A stunning release all around.
She’s already a groundbreaker for use of the Swedish nyckelharpa (keyed viola) in the music of her native Spain, and now Ana Alcaide takes things a few steps further with Leyenda- World Music Inspired by Feminine Legends (ARC Music, 2016). Female folkloric characters from various cultures (including Spain, Mexico, China, Scotland and Alcaide’s own imagination) are celebrated in songs that range from lullaby-like softness to ritualistic and pulsating.
Nyckelharpa, baroque guitars and bouzouki are sweetened with other strings, reeds, percussion and celestial production values that surround Alcaide’s gracefully penetrating vocals and construct a pair of instrumentals that seem to tell otherworldly tales without any words at all. This is music that could serve as a soundtrack for any ancient or modern fantasy worth conjuring, or bring about just enough of a dream state to take you blissfully away from reality for a while. Either way, it’s stunning.
Chicha, the Peruvian-originated, organ-tweaked, fuzz guitar-laden psychedelic style of music with similarities to Colombian cumbia and Jamaican dub, continues on its revival path courtesy of Austin-based band Money Chicha. Their debut album Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul, 2016) is an irresistibly throbbing beat fest where unyielding layers of Latin percussion support keyboards, guitars and bass that are as trippy in their wall of sound as they are intertwined in their tightness. And tightness is indeed the key.
The chicha sound is one that must not lag in its skipping rhythms or spot-on melodic mesh that weighs in somewhere between surf rock, alternative Latin, Andean tradition, the ghost of Arsenio Rodriguez and music that simply wouldn’t appeal to polite society in Lima, Bogota or, well, Austin. Money Chicha go their own way by eliminating vocals entirely and giving the tracks a subtle funk push with a little extra breathing room among the instruments, resulting in a disc that satisfies to the frenzied max.
Lovers of African drumming and African music in general will happily tune in to West to West (ARC Music, 2016) by Nii Okai Tagoe. He’s a master of many a drum and percussion instrument affiliated with the Motherland and treads a beaten (beating?) path away from tradition by lacing his danceable pieces with horns, keyboards, violin, harp, bass and guitar.
Some unexpected turns are taken with arrangements as well, such as the blues sway of “3 Monkeys.” Not surprising for a gent who’s played with outfits as diverse as Baka Beyond and African Head Charge. This sort of thing has been done before, but Tagoe certainly does it spot-on.
A very different take on percussion and its relationship to the human voice can be heard on Chiaroscuro (Bent Records, 2016) a collaboration involving Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus. Nexus is a virtuosic percussion ensemble; Prana is a group of singers who all specialize in singing two pitches simultaneously. That dual pitch knack helped inspire Garry Kvistad of Nexus to invent the vistaphone, four octaves worth of chimes gathered into one instrument and the perfect companion to the harmonic series scale of notes that the singers use to achieve their second level of vocal prowess.
The grandiosely-titled tracks on the album (“The Rituals of Dusk,” A Crown of Radiant Fire,” etc.) combine orchestral drums, gongs, glockenspiel, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, voices and the debuting vistaphone to create music that I can only describe as equal parts refined and primal, rhythmic and atmospheric, structured and seemingly spontaneous, eerie and comforting, earthy and not of this earth. Repeating patterns of percussion and wordless voices ascend to mesmerizing heights and hover there, exploring in sonic terms the disc’s titular concept of light and dark contrasting yet harmonizing.
The three concluding compositions (including a mind-and-ear-altering Balinese monkey chant) are voices unaccompanied and lose nothing in the absence of their percussive counterparts. So is this disc the pinnacle of traditional music, the complete lack of it or something else altogether? Get it and decide for yourself. And prepare to be spellbound.
I don’t know a great deal about traditional Welsh music and thus can’t say how closely 9Bach adheres to it with their latest release, Anian (Real World, 2016). But I am quite taken with the shimmery emotiveness of singer/pianist/composer/lyricist Lisa Jen’s lead vocals, as well as the sparse yet very sturdy support her bandmates offer on guitar, bass, percussion, harp, hammer dulcimer and harmonies.
While some of the instruments used reportedly stray from tradition, the end result is a perfect fit, with modern production adding a kind of cool mist to softly enveloping music that often has a melancholy, longing feel offset by pure beauty. Anian is one to savor repeatedly.
There’s also a bonus disc, Yn Dy Lais (In Your Voice), that features Welsh-influenced poetry and storytelling rendered in English by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Rhys Ifans. It’s meant to make the nuances of the Welsh language more accessibly artsy and is worth a listen, but the lovely sounds on the first disc are the true reason to get this album.
A world away but still bringing tradition to a different level, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars take music with roots as old as the Louisiana bayou itself and jolt it full of rock, soul, blues, zydeco and funk energy. Gulfstream (Octavia Records, 2016) is a swampy, sultry, swaggering, sizzling slab of deep-south musical gumbo that will delight anyone who loves the celebratory sounds of New Orleans and Lafayette and appreciates the need to cool down for a ballad like the Aaron Neville-ish title track. It’s a party, albeit from the heart.
Richard Bona, the “African Sting,” melds his smooth Cameroonian roots music with the sounds of Afro-Cuban band Mandekan Cubano on Heritage (Qwest Records, 2016). African and Latin musical traditions have been best friends for a long, long time thanks to their shared origins, and Mandekan Cubano’s piano, dual percussion, trumpet and trombone lineup expertly underpins Bona’s joyous salsa-infused numbers and his softer side. Primarily a bassist but adept on numerous instruments, Bona adds unexpected touches like electric sitar to the range of Afro-Latin delights that comprise a very fine release.
Brazilian music, a familiar world staple for decades, has more recently been fused with electronica to degrees that some traditionalists have accepted and others rejected. Put me in the former category. It’s telling that Luisa Maita waited six years since her first album to put out a followup; perhaps she wanted to see how the Brazilian/electronica scene would play out in the interim. Her sophomore release Fio da Memoria (Cumbancha, 2016) has the breathy, sensual feel that’s nearly a given when it comes to female Brazilian singers, and the tunes roll out on a foundation of grooves rooted in samba, even if they’re not always rendered on organic instruments.
Maita’s steamy sentiments translate well, as the sung-in-English “Around You” demonstrates, and she’s got some stories of substance to tell, like “Na Asa,” a musical tale of dreams realized. Fio da Memoria is a keeper for sure, but Maita’s vocal mix of subtle and searing would benefit even more from backing that likewise balances real and electronic sounds equally.
If you need a reminder of how well traditional Ethiopian music meshes with jazz, The Rough Guide to Ethiopian Jazz (World Music Network, 2016) will handily serve. Trailblazer Mulatu Astatke kicks off with the horn-heavy proclaiming of “Gamo” and things jump ever further back into the Swinging Addis feel of the 60s and 70s from there.
While at only 9 tracks the collection can’t cover the whole spectrum, what you get is choice. Serpentine instrumentals are the bulk of it, including NYC’s Budos Band providing impressive overseas translation of the sound, but the soulful vocal thrills of Tlahoun Gessesse and Gabriella Ghermandi show just how large a role male and female voices also played (and play) on the scene. A superb sampler.
Ms. Alcaide sets high hurdles for herself. Beginning a few years ago when she mastered the Swedish nyckelharpa and adapted it to late medieval Iberian Sephardic music, she has tackled musical challenge after musical challenge. With “Leyenda,” she spotlights the myths and vestiges of an ancient, matriarchal world, examining the feminine aspects and strengths of a number of cultures.
As the great writer and observer of the human condition, H. G. Wells, put it in his “Outline of History,” “ … and opposed to the Old Man, more human and kindlier, was the Mother, who helped and sheltered and advised.
The psychoanalysis of Freud and Jung has done much to help us to realize how great a part Father fear and Mother love still play in the adaptation of the human mind to social needs. They have made an exhaustive study of childish and youthful dreams and imaginations, a study which has done much to help in the imaginative reconstruction of the soul of primitive man. It was, as it were, the soul of a powerful child. He saw the universe in terms of the family herd. His fear of, his abjection before, the Old Man mingled with his fear of the dangerous animals about him. But the women goddesses were kindlier and more subtle. They helped, they protected, they gratified and consoled. Yet at the same time there was something about them less comprehensible than the direct brutality of the Old Man, a greater mystery. So that the Woman also had her vestiture of fear for him …”
This is no collection of padded fairytales for children, but more a series of clear reminders, anthems and odes to the too-rarely spotlighted strengths of that half of Humanity. As on her past releases, Ana Alcaide here, on the twelve songs on “Leyenda,” meets the goals she sets for herself with exquisite planning and playing. A good gift for others and for one’s own music collection.
The lineup on Leyenda includes Ana Alcaide on vocals, nyckelharpas, keyboards, percussion, rural voices, atmospheres; Bruno Duque on whistles, moxeño, xaphoon, ney, dulzaina, and rural voices; Paul Castejón on keyboards, hang drum, backing vocals; Rainer Seiferth on acoustic, Baroque and Spanish guitars, and bouzouki; Wafir S Gibril on accordion and backing vocals; David Mayoral on the following percussion instruments; t’bel, tambourines, frame drums, darbuka, riq, castanets, sagal, daff, zarb, salad bowl, cowbell and caxixis; Rengo Ruggiero on hurdy gurdy, vocals; Bill Cooley on psaltery, Medieval lute, santur; Jan Grimbergen on oboe d’amore; Isabel Martin on backing vocals; Laura Fernandez Alcalde on backing vocals; and Oreka TX on chalaparta.
Labyrinth Musical Workshop, one of the most respected series of seminars and master classes in Europe, has announced its Summer Seminar Program 2016. The workshops target musicians of all levels who wish to study the modal musical traditions of the world.
Labyrinth is located in Crete (Greece) in the picturesque mountain village Houdetsi 20 kms from the capital city of Heraklion.
In addition to helping students learn the necessary technical and theoretical skills of each musical idiom, the seminars and master-classes encourage students to come closer to the spirit of the tradition they are studying, and to eventually enter into this world where musical language is just one of many other intertwining elements.
Throughout the seminars, teachers and students become part of one big “parea” (company in Greek). Aside from the time spend in the classes, teachers and students play music together, eat together, talk about matters of common interest, share stories etc.
Summer Seminar Program 2016
June 13-18, 2016
Efrén López – Music Group, An introduction to Modal Music.
June 20-25, 2016
Efrén López – Hurdy Gurdy (zanfona)
Giorgis Manolaki – Bouzouki
Ross Daly – The structure & phrasing of Makams
June 27- July 2, 2016
Ido Segal – Improvisation in North Indian classical music
Ciro Montanari – Tabla and the rhythmic cycles of North India
Giorgis Xylouris – A journey into Cretan music
July 4-9, 2016
Evgenios Voulgaris – Yayli Tanbur & Makam
Murat Aydemir – Tanbur Through The Ages
Patrizia Bovi / Peppe Frana – Medieval Music
Pavlos Spyropoulos/Theodora Athanasiou – Accompaniment in modal music
July 11-16, 2016
Martha Mavroidi – Motif & Rhythm
Senih Űndeğer – Turkish style violin
Muhittin Kemal Temel – Ali Ufki, Dimitri Kantemir and 17th century Ottoman Music
Manos Ahalinotopoulos – Modal music in the world of the Greek clarinet
July 18-23, 2016
Tigran Aleksanyan – Armenian Duduκ
George Papaioannou – Violin 2nd Part
Uğur Önür – The music & instruments of the nomads of South West Anatolia
Yiorgos Mavromanolakis – Oud for less advanced students
July 25-30, 2016
Kourosh Ghazvineh – Kurdish Makam with Tanbur
Arslan Hazreti – Kamancha
Ivan Varimezov – Gaida, Balkan rhythms and repertoire
Tzvetanka Varimezova – Bulgarian choral singing
August 1-6, 2016
Hooshang Farahani – Iranian Tar & Radif
Daud Khan Sadozai – Afghan rabab
Periklis Papapetropoulos – CİHAN TÜRKOĞLU- Saz
Djamshid & Bijan Chemirani – Τhe poetry of rhythm
August 8-13, 2016
Yurdal Tokcan- Turkish Oud (Master Class)
Göksel Baktagir – Kanun
Eleonore Billy – Nyckelharpa
Christos Barbas – Music Group: The Instrument as a Voice
August 15-20, 2016
Ahmet Erdoğdular – Classical Ottoman Singing
Ömer Erdoğdular – Ney
Derya Türkan – Kemençe
Periklis Papapetropoulos – Lavta
August 22-27, 2016
Ross Daly – Modal composition
Kelly Thoma – Lyra with sympathetic strings
George Papaioannou – Violin 1st part
Adel Sαlameh – Arabic Oud
August 29- September 3, 2016
Zohar Fresco – Frame Drums (Master Class)
Harris Laμbrakis – Rhythmic improvisation
Vagelis Karipis – Percussion in Greek tradition, Rhythms & Techniques
Not content with her regular challenge of utilizing her good classical violin training to perform medieval Spanish and Sephardic music on a Swedish nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle), international award-winning Ana Alcaide goes outside her already-huge box to collaborate with Indonesian musicians here, commemorating a hypothetical fusion of elements into a musical “Pangea,” that being the name of a super-continent that existed before continental drift gave us the diverse world we live in today. This sort of goal would be far beyond the reach of most players, but Ms. Alcaide seems able to “cover her checks” on musical mergers and stretches. And hyphens.
The balance of rhythm and lead is not that to which most listeners are accustomed. She lightens simple percussion parts while heavying up the sympathetic resonance of nyckelharpa to create a solid foundation for intricate treble melodies. There is considerable resonance and ring throughout the release, using the studio mix as a crucial instrument or even section of its own. It works and is hypnotic.
There are traditional Indonesian flutes tuned outside the Western scale, and they hit the microtones that, as Muddy Waters put it, “fall between the cracks in the piano keyboard.” Thelonius Monk, a world music devotee, compensated for what he perceived as a gap in the musical scale by teaching himself to hit two adjoining piano keys lightly but in tandem. “Tales of Pangea” addresses the same issue with studio strategy.
It is a good record to have for vocal training, meditation, massage and preparation for spiritual and deeply intellectual pursuits.
Radial is the exquisite new album by Scottish musician, composer and producer Griselda Sanderson. She’s a multi-instrumentalist who plays various bowed instruments. In this case, the focus is on the nyckelharpa, the mesmerizing Swedish keyed fiddle.
Most of the material on Radial are original contemporary instrumental pieces with Scottish, Irish and African music influences as well as traditional Swedish polskas with contemporary arrangements.
The concept behind Radial is a musical voyage following an ancient Viking route that traveled from Scandinavia to Scotland and all the way to current Morocco in North Africa. That’s why in some pieces of the album, the nyckelharpa is joined by Gnawa sentir, guitar, and African percussion. On Radial, Griselda Sanderson is also accompanied by the Hang, a fascinating steel drum that has been appearing on contemporary jazz and world music albums.
The lineup on Radial includes Griselda Sanderson on nyckelharpa, piano, fiddle and percussion; Simo Lagnawi on sentir (a Gnawa bass lute also called guimbri); Louis Bingham on guitar, e-bow, bouzouki, and tenor guitar; Luke Jones on 12-string guitar; Ben Duckworth on Hang; James Dumbelton on guitar and bodhran.
Radial showcases the beauty of the nyckelharpa, a relatively obscure musical instrument that is growing in popularity thanks to artists like Sweden’s Olov Johansson (Vasen) and Peter Puma Hedlund, Norway’s Annbjørg Lien, Poland’s Orkiestra św. Mikołaja, and Spain’s Ana Alcaide.
Griselda Sanderson has released an exceptionally expressive recording of memorable instrumental pieces rooted in European and African tradition.