Exposé Online banner

Boot — Virvla
(NorthSide NSD6039, 1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2000-10-01

Virvla Cover art

One of the things that’s often struck me is how “ancient” much of the folk music from Sweden, Norway, and Finland sounds. Melodies have a modal sound to them much like Medieval and Renaissance music from the European mainland. I’ve always found this “ancient” music fascinating: it’s so primal and energetic compared to the compositions of later centuries. Outside the folk traditions of the Celtic and Nordic peoples, this kind of musical power disappeared for a long time, only to resurface in twentieth century in rock music. (OK, so this is not a strictly accurate take on music history, but I’m referring to the feelings the music provokes in me, so I’ll stand by my word.) Boot is a Swedish trio that takes this folk/medieval connection quite literally, playing Nordic tunes on mostly ancient instruments. Hållbus Totte Mattsson contributes madora, lutes, and hummel (a kind of dulcimer); Ola Bäckström plays viola d’amore, bouzouki, and 12-string guitar; and percussionist Björn Tollin adds power with tambourine, bass drum, and other rhythmic devices (not including a conventional kit). Mattsson and Tollin are part of the electro-folk pioneering band Hedningarna, but here they stick to not just acoustic, but very old-style instrumentation. Many of the pieces remind me of the music of John Dowland and others with their Renaissance dances. I could picture this music being played by a group of minstrels in a torch-lit castle while lords and ladies and servants and dogs indulge in a drunken feast. Tollin’s percussion really gets things going on some tunes, and the diners would jump up and dance wildly, with much stomping and hand-slapping. My only complaint is that at 39 minutes, the CD is way too short; another 30 minutes could hold my interest easily.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 20, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Boot

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Laren d'Or - War of Angels – The same veiled (an under-promoted!) Hungarian label that is teasing us with Talizman, and After Crying, now goes to the other side for a symphonic keyboard recording by Laren d'Or. A solo project?...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues