Annbjørg Lien — Baba Yaga
(NorthSide NSD6044, 2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01The Hardanger fiddle of Norway is traditionally played as a solo instrument, but Annbjørg Lien, one of the more famous exponents of the instrument, here presents it in the setting of an augmented rock band. This is her third solo album, her first for NorthSide (which has also released her acoustic band Bukkene Bruse). Like some of the other artists on NorthSide, she combines the traditional and the modern, but the result is not quite like anyone else’s. Rather than going to the electronic side, she strays more towards rock, and even a bit of progressive rock, courtesy in large part to the keyboards of Bjørn Ole Rasch, who favors organ and Minimoog over digital instruments. The arrangements, while based in large part on traditional sounding melodies, are wildly inventive, veering from acoustic moments where the distinctive sound of the Hardanger is accompanied only minimally, to powerful ensemble pieces with muscular drumming and what sounds like a cast of thousands. Take “Wackidoo” for example. It starts with some odd bagpipe noises and an acoustic guitar with echoing feedback mixed in the background. Then the fiddle comes in with a bouncy melody and the band joins in for a few times through. From out of the blue comes a Bach-by-way-of-Keith-Emerson pipe organ break building into a kind of fanfare for Minimoog. The fiddle and band finish it up, reprising the original melody with more emphasis. This kind of creativity, far from being unusual, is the norm on Baba Yaga. “Inoque” features African children singing, recorded by Annbjørg and Bjørn Ole while touring in Mozambique. The second part of “Ája” has some attention-grabbing drone singing from Ailo Gaup. Other wonderful and fascinating touches abound.
Related artist(s): Annbjørg Lien
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more