Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nils Okland - Straum (rune grammofon, 2000)

Stumbled upon this, somewhere along the way, got in my head that i'd share with you fine folks. Nils Økland plays the Hardanger fiddle, a tradition Norwegian instrument much like a violin, but with either 8 or 12 strings, tuned to sympathetic resonant frequencies. He moves freely between traditional folk music, improv, and modern classical, forsaking the purists and playing a preponderance of his own compositions.
I heard this referenced as a drone album, and there are some droning strings, to be sure, but the overall mood of Straum is of a modern, contemplative classical feel. The fiddle is the main attraction, beautifully recorded in various churches, and augmented by organ, harmonium, trumpet, guitar, and some wordless female vocals (if they are words, they are words that i don't know). The result is 15 tracks of subdued loveliness, each note given room to resonate and soar, although there are a few impressive 16th note runs, just to show Nils is no slouch. I am often reminded of mournful celtic music, probably for the fact that it is mainly fiddle melodies, but i would say that several continents are crossed, and this is music that knows no boundaries, including time.
Stark and subtle, beautifully recorded, and emotionally resonant. For those that enjoy the sound of acoustic instruments, that like to see boundaries smashed and new forms arise from ash, then this is for you. I came upon this accidentally, and can say that i feel my life is enriched, for it. Played after 8 hours of hour, an unexpectedly lovely calm Sun. evening. Sometimes life is full of wonderful surprises.

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