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FLUKT (tr. soaring)
Spill
Flukt
Melvin
Flisa
Lisa
Det er nu tid at vaage
Polarispols
Bryllupstoner
Reel-potpurri
Merethes vise
Dagen viger
Spelemannsbryllup
Gammelhaskjin
Bygnaden
Nestekjaerleik

Sturla Eide Sundli, fiddle/Hardanger fiddle
Øivind Farmen, accordion
Sondre Meisfjord, double bass, acoustic bass guitar
Heidi Skjerev, voice
Erlend Skomsvoll, harmonium
Recorded February 2002 (venue not stated).
2L RECORDS 2L8
[41.47]
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Despite being somewhat put off by the packaging and, especially, the minimal and fairly trite sleeve notes ("…resembles a good game of chess"!), this is one of the most compulsive CDs to have come my way for quite a while. I suppose I enjoyed it on two levels, firstly for the music itself, at least some of which is nothing less than magnificent, and also for all the other wonderful and varied music it reminded me of. The aforementioned commentary mentions Scandinavian and Gaelic folk music, as well as religious tunes (Nordic hymns presumably) as influences but there is much more besides.

The basic trio of Sundli, Farmen and Meisfjord is ably complemented on several tracks by the wistful vocals of Heidi Skjerve (think Nordan's Lena Willemark or even a Swedish Sandy Denny!) and Erlend Skomsvoll's plangent harmonium. One look at the instrumentation alone should give some indication of the territory we are in and those listeners recently enthralled by Geirr Tveitt's recently rehabilitated works might like to sample the Hardanger fiddle based tracks as an example of the type of material which sourced his muse. Likewise, devotees of Jan Garbarek's most overtly Nordic works (e.g. Legend of the Seven Dreams and his collaborations with Sami songstress Mari Boine) will find much to savour here. The tracks represent a mixture of traditional arrangements plus newly composed music (some by band members); the latter, however, sounds so authentic that there is a pretty seamless feel to the whole undertaking.

Although there is hardly a weak link here, my personal favourites include Bryllupstoner which sounds like an old English sea shanty (of the type kept alive by the likes of Bill Meek and John Conolly on their By Humber's Brown Water record) meeting up with a Lutheran hymn tune, and the following track Reel-potpurri in which we are transported to the gaeltacht of Ireland's western seaboard. Other points of reference which emerge include the fiddle music of both Cape Breton Island and Appalachia, and a fluid, underpinning bass often reminiscent of the great folk-jazz inspirations of Danny Thompson, John Renbourn and the rest of the Pentangle "extended family". The aforementioned Hardanger fiddle tunes also make explicit something apparent in late, more experimental (almost Bartókian?) Grieg (Slatter etc.); the connection (something that Jan Garbarek has often referred to, in his interviews and his music) between the folk music of Scandinavia, the Balkans and beyond (Asia Minor, India and the far East).

I would view this disc as part of a wider picture of what Percy Grainger affectionately called "North Sea music" (but would have been better described as music from the North Atlantic seaboards), a living tradition characterised, whether in "classical" or, as in this case, "folk" format, by its respect for the value of what has gone before combined with an openness to new influences. Flukt deserve to gain a wide audience for this disc - there are certain tracks, including the favourites mention above, that communicate just as directly and profoundly as recent classics of a comparable provenance, e.g. the Chieftains with Elvis Costello and Anuna on "A Long Journey Home" and cult Breton harpist Alan Stivell on his superb Au-dela des Mots album. Highly recommended to anyone with a taste for an evolving but traditionally rooted sound, this CD is lovingly performed and recorded in an intimate but highly appropriate acoustic.

Neil Horner


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