It's traditional Swedish music (except for one track), but quite honestly, it’s unlike any take on the past you’ve heard. This is the lumpity-bumpity version, a gleeful rise through it all by a trio using violins, saxophones, and clarinets. It's not your standard line-up, but there’s nothing standard about Massiv.
Christine Tilby, Anna Frykstam, and Cecilia Moore bring their own histories of mixing folk with improvisation and dive in to play around with a bunch of tunes. And play around is apt; the humour bubbles up through all the gaps and cracks in the music. It shows right from the raucous opener, “Polska E Alfred Nilsson,” with its echoes of Archie Shepp stronger than a Saturday night in a rustic country hall. They’re having a ball doing this.
Like so much traditional Nordic music, the tunes are intended for dancing – the polskas, hambos, and valses in the titles are the giveaway – and they don’t forget that. The sense of rhythm and movement is always there, even in the filigree moments of “Koral E Maria Larsson.” Sometimes, though, it’s more prominent, as in the deep, fizzing bass lines that bounce around under the melody on “Böndernas Underverk.”
The moods keep shifting within the tunes, and there’s excellent communication between the three musicians. They listen well, and weave in and out around each other, skillful enough never to lose sight of the tune. It might never be quite massive, but they’re making some of the most interesting and unusual music released this year.
Find the trio online.