Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Frigg – Economy Class

Fans of string music have a lot to get excited about here. Frigg’s latest album is an uncommonly adventurous mix of genres blending traditional Finnish folk with rousing American bluegrass reels. Rich with melody and frequently lush orchestration, it’s something akin to JPP gone to the Grand Old Opry. The septet – three violins, viola, dobro and upright bass, often augmented by cittern, acoustic guitar and piano – take their name from the Finnish goddess (wife of Odin, mother of Thor). Three of the band members have ancestral roots in the legendary village of Jarvela, home to generations of famous Finnish fiddlers. The whimsical album title is somewhat misleading (the song was first conceived by the bandleader during a nasty plane ride while nursing an equally nasty hangover, reflecting on the previous night’s revelry). All but one of the cuts here are instrumentals (unless you count the boisterous“yabba yabba yabba” on the fast shuffle that kicks off the cd).

 

Many of the tracks mix up the beat, starting slowly and then building to a fast crescendo, frequently throwing in a tricky time signature. The second song on the album, Norsken is typical, beginning deliberate and midtempo with the strings flying over it, morphing into bluegrass eventually. Polka Internationale de Louisiane is pretty much what it sounds like, a Finnish take on a Cajun dance. When the Time Comes I’ll Be Ready is a slow 6/8 number with washes of strings on the intro, quiet with occasional pizzicato touches. The tongue-in-cheek Kind of Polka isn’t really a polka at all: it’s a gonzo bluegrass breakdown. The best songs come at the end: the long, captivating partita Northern Lights, with beautiful piano on its long, slowly crescendoing bridge, and a stately waltz, Lars Lenkelifot ,with a majestic, almost operatic choir of voices and a pretty outro with balmy horns over plinking washes of piano and acoustic guitar. This cd is a lot of fun, a real party record: it ought to resonate equally with devotees of the Finnish folk that got so popular here in the late 90s (JPP, Maria Kalaniemi et al.) as well as your more adventurous country music fans.

November 9, 2008 - Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , ,

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