Kristen Bråten Berg, Marilyn Mazur, Lena Willemark - Stemmenes Skygge
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Kristen Bråten Berg, Marilyn Mazur, Lena Willemark
Stemmenes Skygge
Heilo (

cd cover This collection of bare, spare Scandinavian music strips the songs and tunes down to the bones. What's left is the distilled essence of the music, delivered with conviction and devoid of any pretense or artifice. Norwegian Bråten Berg on vocals and jaw harp, Swede Willemark on vocals, violin, and viola, and Danish percussionist Mazur give minimalism new meaning in these ten tracks. Minimalist in this case means anything but one-dimensional. As a ten-minute-plus track such as "Rike Mannens Själ" won't stand up to a monotonous arrangement, the women color the piece with vocals that go from a near whisper to a shout, and percussion that ranges from warm drums to piercing gongs.

Clocking in at over thirteen minutes, "Varluven" is a traditional ballad that uses everything from spoken word to traffic-jam-invoking harmonies to a gamelan-like battery of percussion sounds. On "Huvkraft," Mazur displays her range as a percussionist with a solo tour de force in which she hits everything within reach. In "Ljom," a traditional kulning (herding song), the high, laser-like vocals alternate with growling chortles. By contrast, "Edh Buser" is soft as the mist, with Willemark's delicate vocals accompanied by Mazur's wind chimes. Stemmenes Skygge brings forth something atavistic, distant and ancient yet somehow immediate as this morning. This is not folk music that will be relegated to the background. By evoking a sense of deep intimacy, it demands to be listened to and listened to closely. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available from cdRoots

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