I am honestly happy to see a new recording coming from Frode, since his last year Avant Folk, as he is an artist whose approach challenged me. I am even more happy to see that be a collaboration with another unusual instrumentalist and folk musician, Emilia Amper, Swedish gold playing Key Harp (Nyckelharpa), rare instrument to hear today. Being a big fan of her Bis recordings I did welcome that one with arms wide open. Here the folk group had been reduced from Tented to Quartet, with two percussionists, Erik Raude and Hakon Stene completing the line-up. Border Woods was commissioned piece to the Osa Festival 2015 at Voss, Norway and performed originally by the very same band, so this recording has been already rooted deeply in those musicians’ minds.
Using two percussionists, with extended range of instruments, including those to be played with mallets like marimba, Haltli gets himself very specific texture to complete the unisons performed on harp and accordion. Opening Wind Through Aspen Leaves shows that perfectly by laying a shimmering canvas in the background enriched with the euphonic brass decays. It makes excellent tapestry for the resonating harp strings.
Mostamägg Polska coming after sounds familiar to my Polish soul as it recons the folk spirit of the Northern part of the country and it has a typical construction of the song with its repetitive motives and choruses. I was surprised not to hear Emilia singing. This is the longest track lasting over 15 minutes which is carried all the way down an instrumental part with both harp and accordion singing in unison, wrapped in a gentle percussion in the first part and then with the solo variations of the melody being continued with dissonant harp’s rubatos and Haltli’s chord progressions dialoguing with each other to come to the finale in perfect harmony.
Wood and Stone is nice conversation in rhythm carried by both drummers using their own invention to present sonic universe possible to be created with using those two materials.
Most gentle and poetic part comes with Taneli’s Lament. Here both concerting instruments are reaching the scale of integration which makes it almost impossible to say which one is playing on top when they merge into unison. The theme is gentle and lyrical and utterly charming. This is one of two best tracks according to my heartbeat.
The second is Quietly the Language Dies, which closes the session. It sounds different being played on instruments tuned to quarter-tones, with some Arabic scales incorporated into Frodes instrument. It certainly creates completely new imaginary world of sounds with Orient influence dancing with Nordic folk tune. The constant bardon in the background is served by percussionists playing both on wine glasses which had been also tuned accordingly.
The same happens in Valkola Schottis, where an opening melody is played on glasses and carried on in the fashion of the organ partiture but reduced into the pocket scale. The same motive comes after from both soloists and is carried by them with breaking variations to open finally into joyous folk tune sounding more like it had been played on violin than harp during an ecstatic culmination. Long story short – another phenomenal recording to sway your Soul whenever you need that.