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Sølvguttene & Kudsi Erguner
Pervane – Fløyet fra Guds hånd
Kirkelig Kulturverksted

It's not often that an album title reveals method and message as clearly as Pervane – Fløyet fra Guds hånd. "Pervane" is the Turkish word for "butterfly," while "Fløyet fra Guds hånd" means "Flown from the hand of God" in Norwegian, at once indicating an intermingling of cultures and the forces assembled to express them. Above all, the compound title is a metaphor of the music's unfolding: like a butterfly flown from the hand of God, it communicates something of the divine in the familiar.

"Jeg er hos Gud i nåde"

In simplest terms, this encounter between the Norwegian Broadcasting Boys' Choir, a.k.a. Sølvguttene, and legendary Turkish ney virtuoso Kudsi Erguner, along with his group of musicians, is a mash-up of Norwegian hymnody and music drawn from Turkey's Sufi tradition. Although not obvious, the connections are far from arbitrary. The Norwegian settings of verses by mystical poets Henrik Wergeland and Hans Nielsen Hauge provide logical soil for the deeper roots of Sufi poets Yunus Emre, Pir Sultan Abdal, Fûzulî, Sultan Walad (eldest son of Rumi), and Rumi himself, who spent most of his life in the Anatolian city of Konya. Activations extend in both directions. The Norwegian angle draws listeners into an intimate fellowship with its monophonic singing that nevertheless touches on polyphonous themes. But then, one suddenly hears a kanoon (Near Eastern lap harp) echoing in the background and realizes that something farther reaching is going on. Likewise, the vocals of Bora Uymaz are sharply foiled by the softer choral textures.

The more one listens, the more these two lungs begin to share the same breath. Extroversions and introversions change places. Religious impulses are evenly distributed. Rhythms soar and swim by turns. Still, there is contrast between the two musical streams, found not so much in their notecraft, styles, or even melodies, but rather in their climates. Whereas the Norwegian songs carry the sweetness of arched roofs and congregations beneath them, the Sufi ones taste of the savory outdoors. The latter are, in less uncertain terms, itinerant. The end effect is something of a trinity in and of itself, combining not only Sufi and Christian influences, but beyond them a physical, perhaps geographic, energy that draws great distances together in one sweep. One hears this especially in the ney, which makes graspable an otherwise invisible connecting thread.

The most representative arrangement in this regard is of "Jeg er hos Gud i nåde" (I am with God in Mercy), a setting of words by Hauge in which the combination is most seamless and of which a certain anthemic power defies the need for translation. It begins, humbly, with a lone boy soprano before launching into a mystical raga-like experience. Throughout, the choir acts as a droning backdrop for various ornamentations from the instrumentalists, each a voice unto itself.

Pervane is part of an emerging trend, documented by Norwegian label Kirkelig Kulturverksted, of Scandinavian and Near East musical interests and the potential interconnections between them. One can only hope the trend will continue, as there are, it seems, many seeds yet to be watered. - Tyran Grillo


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