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Mats Edén
Amigo (

cd cover Those of you familiar with Mats Edén's wild fiddle playing amidst the modernistic, rhythmic settings of pioneering Swedish band Groupa - of which he was a founder member - may be surprised by this CD. For it is predominantly a squeezebox album, very uncomplicated in its essence, with Edén playing mostly melodeon and only occasionally the fiddle; there's not another musician within earshot. This is a real back-to-basics set, drawing on material from traditional musicians in Värmland collected by Mats Edén himself and performed in a pretty authentic style. It makes an interesting contrast with Finnish button-box player Markku Lepisto's new CD with Petri Hakala, in which tunes collected likewise from traditional players are treated in a much more contemporary and jazzy vein.

Recorded, it would seem, in a room with generous natural reverb, Avtryck weighs in with 27 tracks, including polskas, waltzes and rejländers, with many melodies from the repertoire of the melodeon player Oskar Andersson, and a number from various fiddle players, some of which are adapted for squeezebox whilst others are rendered on five-string drone-fiddle. Edén's box playing is of a high standard, with an accurate touch, neat but not excessive ornamentation, and plenty of dynamics in volume and attack. His approach to rhythm is often expressively free, but on tracks such as "Lauslätten efter Eirik Toresgard" the playing, enhanced by a simple foot-tap, has a drive reminiscent of Cajun accordion. The use of a one-row melodeon for the majority of tunes (Oskar Andersson's own preference) allows the choice of only two left-hand chords which are played in a conventional vamping style to give a very rustic sound. However, some interesting effects follow on from this apparent limitation, especially when fiddle tunes are adapted for the box: nowhere is this better illustrated than on "Fanten," which is played first on fiddle in a predominant key of A, then again on a one-row box in D, with some spectacularly clashing chords.

The seven fiddle tracks, which provide welcome variety amidst all that melodeon, are distinguished by Mats Edén's characteristic attack, the bow digging deep to give a powerful rhythmic charge and a thrilling skirl on the high passages. "Skogsklockorna," on the other hand, is a beautifully ethereal polska with some delicate string chimes. Overall this CD contains many good tunes, respectfully and well-played. It's not the ground-breaking stuff we associate with Groupa, but then that was never the intention. If you want to hear something of real Scandinavian traditional style, this is for you. - Brian Peters

Available at cdRoots

"Rejlander fran toten" (melodeon)
"Halling fran vastra Varmland och Norge" (bordunfiol - fiddle)
Traditional, recording is (p) and ©2001 Amigo Musik, Sweden/used by permission

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