Ale Carr & Esko Järvelä - Holmgång

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Ale Carr & Esko Järvelä
Gammalthea (

Listen "TC-Man 200" (full song)

Ale Carr is the cittern player with Dreamers Circus, the Denmark-based, classical-inspired trio with two wonderful records to their credit. The fiddler Esko Järvelä is a veteran of many beloved Nordic ensembles including Frigg, Baltic Crossing, Karuna, and Tsuumi Sound System. I knew from the start I was going to like this recording of traditional and original tunes from a Swede and a Finn played on a five-string fiddle and a Nordic cittern.

It begins quietly with “Kollberg & Pringar,” traditional polskas that open with a drone on fiddle supporting a nimble, flowing melody on cittern. As much as I love hearing fiddle tunes with a fiddling lead supported by rhythm guitar, I was immediately and happily impressed that this recording was going in a different direction. When the fiddle takes back the melody, the cittern supports with a countermelody, with the lead switching between the two instruments, making for an interesting and satisfying tune.

Then it's on to “TC-Man 200,” a joint composition which is my favorite track on the album. This is a schottische which starts with a hard-grooving vamp put down by cittern and fiddle together, setting up a cittern lead supported by percussive, rhythmic fiddle. Textures vary chorus to chorus, segueing from alternating leads to harmonies to countermelodies and back to trading off the rhythmic support role.

Listen "Ales Vintervals" (excerpt)

The CD continues through seven more solid tracks. Highlights include “Dog 4 Real” with its persistent, circular fiddle opening and joyous, bouncy melody, the meandering “Blue Mountain Polska,” and the slow, savory “Ales Vintervals.” And for those seeking a more traditional fiddle tune style, “Engelska 2.0” almost fits the bill.

Along this journey, while there are are definitely hints of Dreamers Circus and Frigg, Ale Carr and Esko Järvelä are exploring their own musical landscape. Fans of their other ensembles will find much to love here, and those new listeners who start with Holmgång have plenty of back catalog from both Carr and Järvelä to explore.

Listen "Rockin' The Boat" (excerpt)

According to the liner notes written by Roger Tallroth of Väsen, holmgång comes from an old Viking tradition “where two men would go alone to a small island and settle their differences once and for all.” With this recording, any differences are settled amicably and harmoniously. And after all the notes are played, it is the listener who comes away the winner. - Greg Harness

Further reading:
Dreamers Circus

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