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Vidar Skrede Dynamo Band
Happy Monkey
Nordic Stomp (

As we in the Northern Hemisphere move away from the Autumnal Equinox toward the Winter Solstice, I crave Nordic music. While I listen to this music year-round, there is something in the lengthening nights and approaching cold that turns music of the north from that which I enjoy into that which I need. Recently that need has beckoned the music of Viðar Skrede and his Dynamo Band.

Originally from Haugesund, Norway, and now based in Helsinki, Skrede is an accomplished player of the hardingfele, fiddle, bouzouki, and guitar. He is joined in the Dynamo Band by Pilvi Järvelä on harmonium and Jani Kivelä on guitar, both veterans of the Finnish folk ensemble Tsuumi Sound System. The trio brings an intensity to Nordic music that is just right; it's never over the edge, never overly relaxed, always with the right balance of musical forces. The harmonium especially adds to the fullness and warmth of the band's sound.

All the songs here are originals, but they certainly draw deeply from tradition. There is a fine set of Nordic dances, including a polska, a waltz, and a halling. There is something in these dance tunes, especially in the simply-titled “Vals,” that truly lightens my spirits.

Three songs on this record make up a sort of simian trilogy - “Happy Monkey,” “Spring Monkey,” and “Mispleased Monkey.” And if monkey songs won't bring some extra joy into the long dark nights of winter, I don't know what will. - Greg Harness

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