Ragnhild Furebotten and Habadekuk
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Go' Danish Folk Music (www.gofolk.dk)

Ragnhild Furebotten
Never On A Sunday
Ta:lik (www.talik.no)

While using brass instruments in folk music is certainly not a new concept, with a long tradition in prerecorded times as well as in various revivals (for example, Brass Monkey), the concept has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, in no small measure due to the success of adventurous young bands like England's Bellowhead. And the trend is taking root in Nordic regions these days, as exemplified by these two recordings from Norway and Denmark.

Norwegian folk fiddler Ragnhild Furebotten has gathered together a brass symposium of 6 horn players (tuba, saxophones, trombonium, trumpets and flugelhorn) and created something that is unique among the many folk-brass recordings out there. It's aggressively adventurous, continually full of humorous surprises and yet it all quotes directly from folk and fiddle tunes of Norway, even in the improvised and original tunes. The instrumentation may be sparse, just her fiddle and the horns, but the sound is rich and full, to the credit of arranger and trombonium player Helge Sunde, whose charts never crush the melody or impede the folky drive. Touches of jazz and the avant garde punctuate the proceedings, classical arrangements add elegance and there's plenty of improvisational sounds and ideas that keep it pushing ever forward. All around, Never On A Sunday is one of the more creative folk music albums of 2011.


The Danish band Habadeduk take a more 'pop' approach to their folk-horn fusion, with a full rhythm section, guitars, accordion and fiddle rounding out the brass band sound. They dive right into it with "Proptrækkeren," the accordion and fiddles throbbing the rhythm for a few bars before the band opens it up. The horns punctuate things for a few verses and then blast in full bore. They play with genres mercilessly, adding a bit of country swing to the otherwise jaunty dance tune "Kingo and Hans Jensen." A hint of Bo Diddley opens an accordion hornpipe that evolves into a full throated dance number. When they play it straight, they could be the band at any folk dance, but there is always an underlying sense of surprise and humor that keeps it original and occasionally explosive. - Cliff Furnald

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