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Amigo, Sweden

cd cover I was listening to this one as a background to my work a few weeks ago, not really focused on it, allowing it to wander in and out of my consciousness. Somewhere along the way, I had this odd moment, a deja vu that I realized was the feeling I had the first time an old friend of mine in England sent me a mix tape of Swedish 'new folk' from the early and mid-1980s, when a track by the then unknown to me Filarfolket crept into my ears and snagged me forever, the first taste of what was to become an obsessive appetite.

I stopped what I was doing, cranked up the volume and sat there, transfixed by a band that is both retro and innovative, full of that inexplicable energy that drove the Nordic folk revival led by the Möller/Edén/Willemark generation. Alwa has all that curiosity about the tradition and all of that lack inhibition, allowing something new to happen even as the old ways dominate the feeling. On this, their premier, self-titled recording, they can be thrashy and choppy like a good rock and roll band, then turn moody and ambient like an ominous soundtrack. One moment the folk fiddles of Anna Elwing and Karin Ohlsson are driving an old dance tune, the next moment Jonas Göransson's slidy, slippery guitar line is wrapping itself around a most un-Nordic birimbau or riffing with Torbjörn Richard's low, moaning saxophone. Elwing's pure open vocal line gives way to ethereal, studio-tricked voices driven by Tina Quartey's Afro-Asian percussion fantasies, and again that raw saxophone cuts like a blade through the tall, dense grass of the rhythm. Each turn of phrase on this recording offers a small surprise and occasionally a big revelation. Alwa have all the elements in play: the chops, the curiosity, the nerve. I've learned to never say 'next big thing,' but Alwa... - CF

CD available at cdRoots

Audio: (p)(c)2003 Amigo, Sweden. Used by permission

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