Afenginn - Retrograd world music for moose
Formed in Copenhagen in 2002, Afenginn (Old Norse for intoxication or strength-apparently one and the same in Norseland) comprises an unkempt, musically garrulous quintet (mandolin, mandola; clarinet, bass clarinet; violin; electric and acoustic bass; drums, percussion, xylophone) backed by a motley, spirited guest crew on accordion, strings, woodwinds and brass. The CD notes begin with "dance instructions for urban moose" (i.e., "one that goes its own ways" - we're not exactly talking Sinatra here), and Arthur Murray dance-school charts for front and hind hooves, diagramming quickstep, waltz and tango. As the album notes inform, "Retrograd wasn't built in a day."
Herein, Eastern European and Nordic sounds meet, sniff and circle warily, snarl, cower, snap and whine, collide only to veer off every now and again, snorting half-drunken across the dance floor, hoofing it out into darkest night. Consider "Ultravenos svovlkage" ("Chorale divina absurdum absintzie"), "Niels on the Faroe Islands" ("a tribute to the ability of living in the middle of an everlasting hurricane"), "Clapdance" (don't ask), "Vodstoget" (the hoohah train of death) and "Andante definibus," the final stroll. This is a stringy, tin-eared, oompah sketchbook, a forthright cornucopia of sonic conundrum and gamy desire, not impossible but ever unlikely, klezmodemonic, darkly folkloric in some slyly familiar, vaguely menacing way. Mandolinist Kim Nyberg contributes 13 of the 15 compositions, setting the tenor for this angular expedition into unsettled sounds neither past, nor present, nor future perfect, all somehow grounded (shall we say) in a particular sense of place, if only in the shimmering plasma of some far gone northern lights. - Michael Stone
Editor's note: The CD also includes a number of short music videos. Here's "Tivoli Invaliid"
CD available from cdRoots
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