Dark, slow, intense, deep-pitched duetting, on hardingfele very unusually tuned an octave down, and electric viola similarly plunged to octave-low register, in ‘sorrowful tunes to make your heart sing’ - these are the melodies of songs, from living tradition, hymn-books and manuscripts, of sadness as melancholy as the plover’s cry, love lost, farewell, the transience of life, and ‘bottomless baroque mystery.'
Norway’s Ånon Egeland has a distinguished, open-minded and multifaceted career in traditional music and the inspiring communication of its skills and knowledge to new generations. Mikael Marin is the viola player with the very well-known Swedish trio – recently become a duo – Väsen. In live performances of this project the two of them, with grey beards and dressed in retro suits and hats, appear like ghosts from another time.
If the concept might seem not the best recipe for a jolly time, well, it’s certainly not smile-and-scrape uptempo levity. But there are so many fiddle albums that, fine as they are, can blur into a degree of genericness, while this one inhabits its own slow-churning, thoughtful and rather beautiful world of meaningful melodies.
One or two tracks, such as “Psalm 326," ascend into a slightly sunnier world, while “Gorrlaus” is one of the special tunes for which fiddlers would tune their instruments down until the strings were much slacker, and the lowest one even further detuned to create a pitch-surging drone, and, inspired by this change of sound the fiddler would play and play, hypnotically, powerfully obsessed with repeating, gradually changing phrases.
The album closer, the title track “Farvel, Farvel” (Farewell, farewell), which they learned from a cylinder recording of Margit Tveiten, has an opening phrase and implied chordal shape so similar to the Scots ballad “Matt Hyland” that it’s hard not to surmise there’s a connection. - Andrew Cronshaw