With the album Ara, Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Erlend Apneseth and his trio (drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde and guitarist Stephan Meidell) signal a folk music retelling of ancient stories that bring to mind Viking landscapes of ice and snow. Winter is coming -yet the music suggests this winter provides deep and breathtaking introspection amid icy drifts, snow-capped mountains, and the surf of a wind-chilled frozen ocean shore.
Take the opening track, "Utferd," a composition that conveys an early morning eeriness, as though peering through the fog at distant crashing waves. Hegg-Lunde's drums provide an ancient back beat to Apneseth's beautiful wind-swept melody. "Tundra" reveals the subtle interplay of the trio. Apneseth plucks away at the melody while Meidell's guitar quietly howls below the surface of Hegg-Lunde's trotting drum.
In "Øyster," the meter is drawn out. Guitar and fiddle develop the folk melody and Hegg-Lunde knows how to support the music with just the right touch of flourish. "Stryk" is notable for the interplay of soundsone can hear a wind harp and an almost bagpipe echo in the distance. "Undergrunn" harkens back to Medieval days, as it moves the listener from castle courtyard outward on a galloping ride through wind and snow.
The highlight of the album might be "Sakura," where the trio mix in an Asian flavor to the music the floor tom drum and an electronic rumble shift below the guitar while the fiddle plays winsome notes above the repeating Asian motif.
The delicate nature of the tunes on Ara demonstrate the trio's immense talent. Pensive, contemplative, minimalist, the music elicits a soft fire on a chilly night. Atmospherics aside, this is music of sublime beauty. Highly recommended.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.