Väsen — Keyed Up
(NorthSide NSD6080, 2004, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2005-03-01
After many years as a quartet, Väsen returned to their original trio configuration for last year’s Trio (previously reviewed). And they apparently liked it so much they decided to do another recording without percussion. These fifteen tunes were recorded live in the studio with only a few takes each, and there’s a great mix of arrangement and spontaneity that really shines through. Just as Scottish and Irish musicians rely on jigs and reels for their instrumental tunes (dances really), Swedes seem to base everything on the polska. I must admit that for a bunch of tunes supposedly built in the same form, there is an astonishing amount of variety, from quiet and meditative to hyperactive things seemingly impossible for dancers. All three musicians contribute compositions, but you’d have to be a more discerning listener than I to tell the difference without reading the credits. The interplay between Mikael Marin’s violin or viola and Olov Johansson’s nyckelharpa provides most of the delights, skipping lightly on bouncy melodies, sometimes in unison, sometimes breaking into harmonies. Roger Tallroth’s guitar is cast mostly in supporting roles, though in the way of great folk guitarists, he can make the backing as interesting as many players’ leads. Sad to say, this is merely another solid entry in Väsen’s catalog, but not a bad place to start if you’re interested in Swedish folk.
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
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more