Draupner - Lystra - Eva Tjörnebo & Viskompaniet
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Caprice (www.draupner.nu)

Nomis (www.lystra.nu)

Eva Tjörnebo & Viskompaniet
Klara stjärnor

There is a wave of new music coming out of Sweden and, as with any tide, sometimes treasure washes ashore, sometimes just the usual driftwood and beach glass. cd cover

Draupner's new one shows a step forward in their maturing process. The trio (Henning Andersson and Görgen Antonsson on fiddles and Tomas Lindberg on guitar and bouzouki) keeps it acoustic on their collection of old and new polskas, marches, and waltzes. The fiddles still have the tight interplay so beautifully introduced on their 2001 debut. The sound is light but not airy. Lindberg's assertive guitar work gives the whole depth and drive and enough gravity to keep the fiddles grounded.
Antonsson and Lindberg show themselves to be deft tunesmiths. Lindberg's "Besova" is a sweet, simple air given just the right amount of filigree by the fiddles. Antonsson shows a playful sense of rhythm on his "Noodle schottis" and "Triangle polska." His "Tattoo," based on an unfulfilled dream of getting one, has some nice droning fiddle and misty guitar stuff going on. Make sure you read the, um, interesting story of the "A-minor polska from 'Hultkläppen'." Then decide if you would want the excellent but debauched fiddler Hulten playing at your dance.

Lystra is vocalist Berit Ekespong, Olof Misgeld on fiddles, and Simon Stålspets on plucked instruments, percussion, and sälgflöt (an overtone flute). More forward-looking than Draupner and with a more varied timbral palette, the three have a sophisticated sound that draws on not only folk, but jazz, art song, and the avant-garde. Ekespong's voice has the eerie purity of that of a boy soprano and is beautifully suited to the group's sinuous arrangements. Percussive touches like clay drums, jew's harp, and mbira add glitter. "I himmelen" layers Ekespong's pristine voice and karnatic sounding violin over an mbira ostinato for haunting effect. "PS 139" is an art song tour de force for Ekespong, with wide leaps and distant key changes over subtle guitar accompaniment. They follow this with the simple hymn, "Bliv kvar hos mig (Abide with me)," sung a capella after a pensive fiddle introduction. Thoughtfully conceived and intelligently executed, Lystra rewards the listener more with each playing.

Not quite so successful are Eva Tjörnebo and Viskompaniet. While the playing is solid and clean, it is all a bit too timid to move the listener. Tjörnebo's pleasant but thin voice is not enough to sustain an entire album. It has an occasional tremulousness that betrays a lack of confidence. Viskompaniet is an able enough quartet of back-up musicians with a lot of tone colors at their disposal - nyckelharpa, guitar, bagpipes, and accordion among other sounds. Unfortunately, the arrangements are a bit predictable, sometimes bordering on the corny. "Den första lördagsafton," with its dorky ukulele and "Trosa bönder," with its trite melody and oom-pah accordion are two of the worst culprits. The group is at its strongest when they are at their least polite. When they vary tones and texture as in "Ekerot och Kråkefot", the ears perk up. The scratchy, buzzy "Kom med mig," with its rustic nyckelharpa and jews harp, has a fun swagger to it. The final track, the pastoral "Här är dagar och här är nätter," with its tinkling bells, drony pipes and static rhythm, is a bucolic wonder, but by this time, it's almost too little, too late. There's room for improvement here, and the group has the chops to achieve it. - Peggy Latkovich

All three CDs are available at cdRoots

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