Nils Økland
Bris Rune Grammofon http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton5346_0.jpg

[Rune Grammofon; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5 4.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: Norwegian folk, traditional fiddle, contemporary classical, Scandinavian jazz
Others: Arne Nordheim, Arve Henriksen, ECM, Rune Grammofon


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


Bris is the second Rune Grammofon release from Nils Økland, a musician whose specialty is the Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele), a traditional hand-carved, spectacularly ornate Norwegian stringed instrument. The Hardanger fiddle is similar in appearance to the violin, though it has as its distinctive feature four or five sympathetic strings that lie underneath the fingerboard, adding a reverberating "echo" to the instrument's sound. Furthermore, the fiddle is Norway's national instrument, holding a prominent position in the traditional music of that country.


Bris is the second Rune Grammofon release from Nils Økland, a musician whose specialty is the Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele), a traditional hand-carved, spectacularly ornate Norwegian stringed instrument. The Hardanger fiddle is similar in appearance to the violin, though it has as its distinctive feature four or five sympathetic strings that lie underneath the fingerboard, adding a reverberating "echo" to the instrument's sound. Furthermore, the fiddle is Norway's national instrument, holding a prominent position in the traditional music of that country.

It's indicated in the liner notes that some of the pieces on Bris (not that bris... the word is Norwegian for "breeze") were composed by Økland for a play, Melankolia, which was based on a novel by Jon Fosse about Norwegian Painter Lars Hertervig. I have no idea what either the novel or the play are about specifically, though I have read that Hertervig was allegedly institutionalized for mental illness; but based on the music on Bris, I can almost imagine the subject matter contained in Fosse's work. Melancholy is an emotional state conveyed rather intensively by Økland on this album. These individual tracks range, in tone, from soaring, cinematic pieces to more intimate, rustic ones. The more simplistic pieces on the album have a propensity to veer into slightly more abstract, improvisational territory as well. Primarily composed of fiddle, harmonium, double bass, and assorted percussion, Bris is a majestic, almost baroque record that bridges the gap between modern classical and folk music, with just a hint of contemporary Scandinavian jazz thrown in for good measure.

The lineup of musicians on Bris is another factor that contributes to the record's mystique. Økland's cast of supporting musicians has their musical backgrounds in jazz and electronic music. Thus, it is somewhat surprising that the album has such an organic, acoustic warmth rather than the clinical, Nordic iciness that is found on many other releases on Rune Grammofon's roster. Though all the compositions on Bris are Økland originals, there is the sense that these pieces are indeed traditional Norwegian folk ballads. Furthermore, Økland's ability to convey a sense of expressionistic intimacy is remarkable. The pieces on the record elicit a powerful emotional response from the listener at times. One receives the impression that the Hardanger fiddle, for Økland, is a catalyst for transforming his vision of the Norwegian folk tradition into a contemporary form of musical expression. The melodies and tones on the album conjure up for the listener austere, wooded, snowy Norwegian landscapes that are positively teeming with life. Bris is an astonishing piece of work, and Rune Grammofon is to be commended for the album, another in a long string of extraordinarily strong releases.

1. Grålys
2. Håstabø
3. Myrkjeblått
4. Slør
5. Blond Blå
6. Bris
7. Notten
8. Seil
9. Flyt
10. Avminnast
11. Gjennom
12. Bønn