Sväng / Svang
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Sväng, the record label says, "is a refreshing and uplifting new phenomenon in the genre of harmonica bands." Frankly, I was unaware that harmonica bands had earned their own genre, but I'll leave that point to the experts. The point of this CD is to spread what I can only describe as wonderful and surprising music. The quartet begins with a slightly dissonent rising tone that leads to "Jampparaleele," a bouncy tune that sounds like an accordion being pulled in four directions at once.

Then the tango melancholy of "Kaipaustango" with a completly different tone, grounded by a low, low bass harmonica. Then, when the swing of "Saaren Erakko" kicks in, any last suspicion fades that this is just a novelty band. Playing chromatic, diatonic, harmonetta, and bass harmonicas, Sväng achieves a balance and richness you might not expect. They move seamlessly from originals to traditional Romanian, Finnish, Russian, and Swedish tunes, even the American "Sandy Boys and Hangman's Reel." Sväng seems to cultivate a retro aura, from the sepia CD cover to their songwriting. You'll find no electronic effects here, and the concluding "Svängtime Rag" could be the soundtrack to an old silent comedy. If you're deadset against reedy music, steer clear. But open-minded listeners and harp fans will find a lot to like in this energetic and emotionally rich album. - Scott Stevens

CD available from cdRoots

CD available from cdRoots

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