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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Folke Larm - Songlines Compilation 2011

One of the most enjoyable CD's I've listened to over the last few months is the excellent Folke Larm compilation presented with Songlines Magazine. This is described on the cover as 'Traditional music from Norway' and features artists from the Nordic Showcase Festival Folkelarm. It all sounds a bit on the dull side but fear not, this is an atmospheric and joyous collection of the best that Scandinavian music has to offer.

The whole thing has a distinct atmosphere and instantly transports you to some bitterly cold forest on the banks of a fjord, possibly in a cabin with a roof made out of turf, with only an open fire to keep you warm and some strips of dried reindeer meat to eat. The soundtrack the compilation provides is part peaceful solitude and part eerie timeless fiddling folk; Folkelarm must be a cracking if slightly unnerving festival to attend.

The songs basically fall into three broad categories. First there's the hardanger fiddle fuelled instrumental tracks that evoke a sense of ancient Viking tradition and dancing around the campfire, an effective example being 'Systerslatt' by Per Anders Buen Garnas. Secondly, there's a range of quirky generic Norwegian folk tunes with a touch of fusion thrown in for a little variety such as 'Koloyni' by Kouame Sereba. However thirdly, and best of all, are the tracks that combine the fiddling atmospheric folk with a stark female vocal. Tracks by Sudan Dudan, Valkyrien Allstars, Hekla Stalstrenga and Tindra are all stunning and sound like a cross between the Wicker Man soundtrack and the music you'd hear in a hobbit bar in the Shire, sung by a sexy, ginger, celtic witch. Ginger is good in any context, but in an attractive, Scandinavian witch it is even better.

The package is fantastically entertaining and good value when you consider it's a freebie. It's definitely achieved it's objective with me as I've already purchased a couple more Scandinavian compilations and 'November' by Annalaug, which I'm looking forward to listening to in the next couple of months. Watch out for the reviews later in the year.

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