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

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Various Artists - Giant for a Life - A Tribute to Gentle Giant – The second of two tributes to rock's most misunderstood progressive band is another hodgepodge of tracks from the Gentle Giant catalog. Most bands seem to adopt the policy of covering the original...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues