Anne-Marie Giørtz - På Egne Vegne
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Anne-Marie Giørtz
På Egne Vegne
Grappa (www.grappa.no)

Take a handful of Shakespeare's sonnets, translate them into Norwegian keeping the rhyme scheme and the iambic pentameter, and set them to a multitude of musical styles. It sounds a crazy experiment, but Anne-Marie Giørtz and her trio make it work. På Egne Vegne has five Shakespearean sonnets and eight other poems set to music by Giørtz who is known primarily as a jazz singer. She provides the vocals and is backed by Eivind Aarset on guitars, banjo, and various synthesizers and Peter Baden on percussion including marimba, autoharp, and champagne cooler.

The lyrics chosen are not the only crazy experiment here. The musical forms are difficult to categorize as they push the proverbial envelope. There are wild, angular melodies followed by sweet, soft lullabies. There is noise and feedback mixed with martial rhythms. Off-kilter waltzes with driving banjo are followed by soothing bells and softly ringing acoustic guitars. There are overlapping vocals, overdubbed, perhaps processed, mixed with synthesizers. There's one passage could be best described as someone trying to sing the sound of a theremin; whatever that is, it's gorgeous. Soft sleepy moods will switch to boisterous, jarring polyrhythms, and emotions switch abruptly from song to song, or sometimes within a song.

Don't get me wrong. I love this album. (And I do think it needs to be listened to as an album; the juxtapositions are not nearly so effective in an iPod shuffle.) This record brings out all my emotions, yet it's still cerebral. It lulls me just long enough to give me a punch right when I need it. Sometimes I'm drawn in trying to analyze what exactly is happening musically, and sometimes I just let the sounds wash over me. Like the voice in many of the sonnets, I am smitten. -Greg Harness

CD available from cdRoots

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