The duo of Göran Månsson and Sven Åberg bring a fresh, lively perspective to traditional Swedish folk tunes. Månsson masters a battery of flutes from the standard orchestral transverse to the traditional härjedal pipe. His playing is agile and expressive, with a wonderfully elastic sense of phrasing. Åberg has a clean, sure-footed touch on lutes, guitar, and mandolin. The arrangements, while not flashy, are clever and forward-looking. The screeching noise jam on the Månsson-penned "Fluring" is about as rowdy as these guys get (and it is pretty rowdy!) The liner notes describe it as "grappling with wild thoughts."
Their jazzy arrangement of Månsson's schottis "Fäxdans" features
the subcontrabass recorder, an instrument that is so low-pitched that you almost have to be an elephant to hear it. A Native American-sounding influence is evident on "N'låtn," with its windswept härjedal pipe, trotting guitar accompaniment, and bowharp drone by guest Harald Pettersson. The duo imparts a graceful flow into all fourteen tracks here, whether traditional or original, folky or avant-garde. They're both capable of technically brilliant playing, but the focus is always on the music, never on fireworks displays. The final track beautifully demonstrates this. "Svartmyren (The black bog)" is a traditional song from Jämtland, given an atmospheric treatment with härjedal over a simple, high, one-note mandolin drone. It's absolutely captivating, as is the rest of this wonderful disc. - Peggy Latkovich
Audio: "Faxdans" ©2001 Ear Music, Sweden, used by permission
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