Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Brukkene Bruse — Steinstolen (The Stone Chair)
(NorthSide NSD6032, 1999, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2000-05-01
Over the past few years, the Northside label has been issuing collections of Scandinavian folk music, some of it strictly traditional and some of it brought up to date through use of modern instrumentation and production techniques. The Stone Chair straddles the fence between these two and delivers the goods with aplomb. Brukkene Bruse is a Norwegian quartet (honored as official musicians of the ‘94 Winter Olympics) that mixes the old (hardanger fiddle, jews harp, flutes) with a touch of the new (Bjørn Ole Rasch’s keyboards). Arve Bergset’s moving vocals also appear on several tracks and are delivered in a wholly genuine and convincing style. Overall, the material here leans heavily on Nordic folk tradition while allowing for the keys to reinforce or even push the emotion of the pieces. The results can be joyous, as in "Steinstolen" and "Fenta," or more moody and somber, as in "Folketone fra Sunnmøre," or stately as in "Bruremarsj fra Østerdalen." This also provides the flexibility to explore modern textural and scenic possibilities, as in the moving "Løvehjerte" or the dramatic "Norafjølls." Fans of the Scandinavian prog scene should like much of what this disc has to offer, since the instrumental and vocal themes here have also made their way into the music of such groups as Änglagård and White Willow. This is modern Scandinavian folk as its best and I can’t recommend it highly enough to fans of the Northside repertoire.
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