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
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more