Frifot - Sluring
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Amigo, Sweden ( / Northside, US (

cd cover Swedish musicians Per Gudmundson, Lena Willemark and Ale M�ller certainly need no introduction to anyone who has been the least bit interested in Swedish music in the last 20 years. Their work is the stuff of legend, both separately and together, and their numerous recordings are a history of the Nordic roots revival. So there's always a big expectation and a commensurate risk of disappointment when such folks release a new recording. Frifot's 2003 release offers no doubt that these musicians are at the ever-higher peak of their skills. The performances are delivered in a more or less "live in the studio" approach of trio performances, with some dramatic overdubs but nothing that moves the recording into the "studio creation" realm. They can merge their voices, violins, mandola, bagpipes, harp and flutes into a wisp of melody on violin or a thunderous harmony of voices as they delve into the tradition and then come back with new interpretations.

They open with a wonderfully bare performance of the traditional "Mikkel Per" with new lyrics by Willemark, who immediately takes front and center with her powerful and enduring voice. The throbbing of M�ller's octave mandola offers a percussive underpinning to the paired fiddles of Gudmundson and Willemark, and when they break into the instrumental partner to the tune, "Kus Erik," the marvelously unexpected harmonica riffs and melodies pump this up to high gear. This is immediately followed by a rich a cappella dirge about the frailty of human existence, with a Medieval darkness that defines the other dominant character of Sluring. The entire set lives up the opening foray and in 17 tracks and 60 minutes, they never once let up. It's a bold statement that this generation of the Nordic folk revival is still very much in charge, and in no need of electronic equipment to make their music freash and strong.

The CD package comes with some added computer-based stuff, but nothing to write home about: a TV performance video, bios of the artists, Swedish lyrics to the songs and a recipe for the thick beef stew that gives the CD its title. I am still waiting for folks to come up with some truly creative uses for the computer part of these disks. - CF

Audio:"Mikkel Per / Kus Erik"
(p)(c)2003 Amigo Music, Sweden; used by permission

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