Per Gudmundson, Ale Möller, Lena Willemark
In the wake of the two very ambient and lush ECM recordings of Medieval music by Möller and Willemark under the title of Nordan, the trio Frifot's latest CD is a return to the deeper folk roots of their music and a more visceral setting for their talents.
All three musicians are the in the top ranks of Swedish music; traditional folk, jazz and the more avant garde aspect of what in Europe is becoming known as "newly composed folk music." All three have spent the last two decades making sure that the preservation of their heritage is not a museum piece, but rather an exploration of the past that leads inexorably to a new future.
In a 1997 interview I did with Möller, he succinctly explained his musical motivation. "I am always looking for a sound where one note tells a story. One must find the right note, and play it." This is the essence of Frifot, a search for an elemental form of folk music, one that is stripped down to its essentials and then reconstructed in such a way as to sound very ancient while simultaneously making the listener wonder "Where could that sound have really come from?" Thus can an antique birch bark flute play a line that is as strangely otherworldly as a synthesizer; thus can Willemark's shepherd's calls sound like something from the Meredith Monk catalog. This is avant garde chamber music stripped of its pretension, played by an ensemble of violins, bagpipes, hammer dulcimer, flutes and harp, driven by open throated voices and the rhythm of a mandola or bouzouki.
Back in the ancient past we so often revere as purer and more simple, there were musicians as inventive as this, who would gather with their friends and try new sounds and new ideas, who would say "Hey, listen to this!" The folk process never stops. It moves faster than the pen that tries to turn it into history. Listen. That blur that just whizzed by was Frifot, making tomorrow's tradition. - Cliff Furnald