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Live Reviews

Scene Norway 2 at King's Place

By Published: December 13, 2013
Molværremains an important part of the Punkt axis, working regularly with co-Artistic Director Jan Bang, including a stellar trio show with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu
Trilok Gurtu
Trilok Gurtu
at the 2013 ELBJazz Festival in Hamburg, Germany earlier this year. But Punkt has always been about an expanding network of musicians, and so it's no surprise that the trumpeter has plans to work with Bang and another electronics/remix artist who first appeared at Punkt in 2012 but so impressed the festival that he was invited back for this year's edition:

But beyond Switch and work with Bang and Vladislav Delay, Molvær continues to think ahead to new projects. It would be imprecise to suggest he has a five-year plan, but his mind is clearly thinking beyond the next album and tour:

Back to Scene Norway 2, as part of King's Place's ongoing Folk Union series, Talkington brought Hardanger fiddler Annbjørg Lien as the second show of Scene Norway 2's first evening. The Ålesunder delivered a largely joyful set of traditional folk music, collaborating with Swedish guitarist Roger Tallroth, whose recent recording with fellow guitarist Scott Nygaard, Rosco (Self Produced, 2009), and also featuring fiddler Emma Reid, provided plenty of evidence of Tallroth's simpatico with the instrument. Tallroth was also a constant companion with Lien, appearing on all of the fiddler's recordings from Felefeber (Grappa, 1994) through to Aliens Alive (Grappa, 2001).

The two may not have recorded together in over a decade, but the chemistry they share has clearly remained intact. Tallroth used only an acoustic 12-string guitar, but with an altered tuning that meshed beautifully with Lien's Hardanger fiddle—an instrument came from the Hardanger region of Norway and, along with four strings played with a bow, also includes either four or five additional strings that resonate sympathetically with those played, not unlike a sitar, though the effect is far more subtle.

While the duo's set was steeped in the Scandinavian folk tradition, it also drew a clear line to traditional British folk music, although the emphasis and lilt of the instrumentalists' phrasing was somewhat different. Lien and Tallroth also performed a couple of tunes written by the guitarist, and demonstrated that their music may possess an immediately accessible veneer but, with irregular meters fundamental to some of the tunes, was often more complex than expected under the hood.

The ease with which the duo played together was also reflected in their between-song banter; it may have been on a stage in the 250-seat Hall Two at King's Place, but Lien and Tallroth's performance bore the intimacy of two friends simply getting together for an informal evening of music-making and, for a little more than an hour, with eyes closed and ears open, it was easy to imagine these two sitting on their living room sofas, playing for nobody but themselves.

Saturday, November 16: Waffle Hearts with Maria Parr / Hilde Marie Kjersem Band / Spin Marvel with Nils Petter Molvær / Loop Collective with Stian Westerhus

The second day of Scene Norway 2 was chockablock with events appealing to everyone from children to seniors. It opened, in the afternoon, with a reading to celebrate the English translation of Maria Parr's best-selling and award-winning children's book, Waffle Hearts, recently published by Britain's Walker Press, as translated by Guy Puzey. Puzey was also on hand, as was Talkington, Gill Evans (representing the publisher), and three musicians—trumpeter Alex Bonney and bassist/electronics manipulator Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, both of the UK's Loop Collective, along with Molvær—the trio on hand to provide some improvised (and, at one point, requested) incidental music to readings in Norwegian by Parr, and English by Talkington.

The St Pancras Room was set up in family-friendly mode, with chairs as well as large beanbag cushions for the kids. And while Norwegian waffles—a different experience, being thinner and softer than, for example, Belgian waffles—were, indeed, served, they weren't made available until the end of the event. Talkington interviewed Parr, on the writing of the book—which was based on stories that she used to tell her younger brothers when she was growing up in Ålesund—as well as Evans and, in particular, Puzey, about the challenges of translating to English certain things that would be so common to Norwegian children but completely foreign to more urban Londoners.

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