Skruk and Rim Banna / Krybberom (A Lowly Manger)
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SKRUK and Rim Banna
Krybberom (A Lowly Manger)
Kirkelig Kulturverksted (

cd cover Carrying on from 5 Voggesanger fra Ondskapens Akse, KKV delivers another interesting concept with this collection of traditional and original Christmas carols with a twist: Rim Banna's wonderful Arabic lead vocals come together with a jazz orchestration and wonderful Gregorian-like chant to create a record that truly delivers.

Rim Banna had already made an impact on that other EP, but she is definitely the star of Krybberom. Her child-like voice is warm and full of humanity but also a sense of melancholy. It is that last quality which elevates this record from traditional fare to a collection of essays on humanity, war, refugees and a whole lot more, despite the rather one-sided treatment of the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which I find rather unfortunate in the context of this, the quintessentially universal Christian rite.

Unless you are fluent in Norwegian, you'll get flickers of all that only through the English translation of the Arabic parts and the tone of the recordings, which is almost always quite solemn.

Personally, I found the inclusion of Byzantine Easter hymns and sad Palestinian folksongs in this collection of celebratory and happy hymns the most inspiring. It is what makes this collection of carols gain an extra level of depth, pointing to the belief that Nativity is related to Easter, birth to death, and so there is no need for excessive happiness, nor excessive sadness: this is just life. I suppose this is what led the musicians to include a requiem for a 16-year old Palestinian girl, Sarah Abdel Haq, in this record, one of the most heartfelt tracks.

Apart from the wonderful aural quality of this record that will provide the instant gratification and the perfect background to Christmas tables, it is the sense of an eternal cycle of events (lest we forget that before Christmas this time of the year used to be the pagan celebration of the birth of the Sun God) that will probably make this a lasting classic. - Nondas Kitsos

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