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Silent Folk
Footprint Records (

Since the 1980s, Groupa has been an essential element of the Swedish folk revival, serving as host to many fine musicians over the decades. Silent Folk continues on from 2008's Frost, featuring Groupa as a provocative trio of Mats Edén (fiddles), Terje Isungset (percussion and jew's harp), and Jonas Simonson (flutes).

What makes Groupa 2014 vital is its adherence to a particular sonic aesthetic: this is minimalist music played to maximum effect. By minimalist I am not speaking of the repetitive modern classical compositions of Glass or Reich, but rather the stripped-down intensity of Edén, Isungset, and Simonson. This is a recording that relishes moving about in its own peculiar space, demarcated between plays of light and shade, melodic assembly and deconstruction. Further, it is perhaps somewhat deceptive to claim that tracks end on Silent Folk. Instead, the instrumentals seem to organically bleed into one another, building a stream of consciousness that leads to the final, joyous summertime buzz of “Halling from Elsewhere.”


"Halling from Elsewhere"

Each individual member of the trio contributes a tune to open the program, and collaboration and spontaneity are in abundance. On “Silkeskastanj,” Simonson's flute and Edén's fiddle glide with each other, while Isungset's percussion adds weight and crunch. This is a formula that morphs throughout Silent Folk; gossamer lyricism, with an avant-garde attitude. Isungset's contribution is particularly notable; as one of the most inventive percussionists around, he utilizes both traditional instruments and others derived from the natural world. The group takes chances on using Isungset's shamanistic magic as its foundation, and everything remains beautiful, fascinating, and changing, much like nature itself. The trio even conjures running rivers, as on “Marsch På Loftet,” where the shifting patterns give way to emerging cries on the flute, and gorgeous interplay between Simonson and Edén.

"Marsch På Loftet"

The title track seems to ask "What holds a groove together?" It's a funky piece (reminding me a bit of the avant-garde trumpeter Don Cherry's “Brown Rice”) built on jew's harp and skittering and shimmering breath. Groupa sounds elemental at times like this. The music throbs in its weird way, down to what sounds like Isungset hitting logs and bottles, while Simonson's flute wells up, to be joined by Edén as the trio dons their pagan hats.

"Silent Folk"

We're led into "Fundrar/Hurven," with its shuddering jew's harp, sawing fiddle, and percussion reminiscent of being sucked into a time warp. And so it goes, booming, clanking and soaring as Groupa melds the natural world with the melodies that express it.


Edén, Isungset, and Simonson are mining a rich seam on Silent Folk. It feels as if the folk and folk-derived tunes are found objects, but found in a landscape that is both real and mythically charged. The trio presents the world outside as art, unpredictable and evolving into moments of sheer exhilaration. Groupa bring us silence alive with possibilities. - Lee Blackstone

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