They say music is a universal language and you get a strong hint of that when you realise the similarities between Norwegian band Sver's style of music and a great deal of highland, Celtic and indeed general folk music.
|Scandinavian band Sver
The album opens with Lompa Koyre Traktor which is one man and his tractor and is a fast-paced instrumental which brings to mind bands such as Skerryvore, Capercaille and Runrig. The band has that big sound which is almost orchestral in the enormity of its construction. This gives way to the title track which comes banging in with a staccato rhythm that sort of eases out a little like the sea calming before coming back up to rage once again. You can hear clearly the distinctive sound of the Hardanger fiddle which Mjelva plays. The wonderfully ornate Hardanger gets it special sound from having eight or even nine strings four or five of which are understrings below the main four strings which are played like a normal fiddle. The understrings resonate to the played strings adding a tone rather like the wires on a snare drum.
Ruf, another one from Mjelva, does have a slightly cajun feel about it but it still keeps that uniqueness of the Scandinavian sound especially when Ranoien slides in the accordion. It's this instrument which opens and carries Falsk Vals. In some ways it's remarkable how similar their music sounds akin to UK regional folk music especially the Celtic side of things and in other ways not, it's folk music after all. Sver do seem to have this signature manner of bringing in a big sound then slowing it down and lulling you into a gentler sound before opening the windows again an letting the wind blow through.
|A hardanger fiddle
The opening of Total Carnage is like something Seth Lakeman would blow your cobwebs away with. Mjelva's fiddle comes at you with all strings blazing and Linell certainly makes his presence felt hammering out the percussion in this tribute to Shetland Folk Festival. It goes out with a right foot stomping hoe down or whatever the Norwegian equivalent is, it's certainly a heel crushing way of taking a track out.
It's one of life's great truths that sooner or later blues or jazz will make it's presence felt and Massa Ti Nassa is the one for this album. It begins pretty tame but then seems to descend into madness as the blues sound gives way to a much more chaotic free jazz style of play. The slightly broken rhythm feel carries on with Fuggeln which again incorporates that fast slow undulating character the band seems to favour and certainly keeps the listen on their toes. This track means The Bird like a lot of the tracks you suspect there is a great story to go with it but with Sver being an instrumental outfit it's down to either live explanations or Norwegian scholars to bring them to the fore. Staying with the animal theme Mysoxen is a great dancing tune, you can imagine groups meeting together in a glade with the stars shining and sparks from a bonfire rising skywards as the gathering dances around to enjoy the music. It certainly does have that feel of a barn dance even down to the stomping boot.
|Sver's new album Fryd
Sver certainly know how to put together fascinating tunes and while it may well be Scandinavian in origin there is enough that's familiar to any lover of folk music to keep your interest and enjoyment firmly focused on their sound.
Fryd is out now on Folk Hall Records.