In the mood for a snifter of schnapps, a kick back in the easy chair and a night soaking in some Swedish folk songs, tunes centered, for the most part, around the tradition of herding and goat calling? Aside from the schnapps part, that may seem like a lame idea, but the very progressive Swedish jazz/rock group, Oddjob, dug deep into their homeland's recorded archives and took away the inspiration that resulted in this marvelous and uniquely modern recording, Folk.
Oddjob, a quintet of the common jazz instrumentationtrumpet/reed/piano/bass and drumspulls a Modular Synthesizer and Crumar organ into the mix to craft complex, striated arrangements of their reinterpretations of these simple songs. The group creates ambiances that are sometimes murky, with Per "Rusktrask" Johanson's bass clarinet laying a deep fuzz foundation, and sometimes crystal clear, with a clarion trumpet blowing over a sizzling textures. And then there are ghost-like, low-in-the-mix howlings sounding like winds blowing in off the steppes.
There's a bit of that familiar Scandinavian melancholy, but more often than not the music brims with an organic ebullience and joy, making some of the tunes quite fun and danceable. And there are a few snippets slipped in from the inspirational folkloric source recordings of actual goat calling, piercing female voices that bring to mind deranged coyotes, that sound not unlike the song of the Somalian ladies that bandleader/pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi used on the title tune on her masterpiece, Desert Lady/Fantasy (Columbia Records, 1994). It seems there is a something universal in geographically disparate folk musics.
On paper, an odd endeavor perhaps. Blowing out of the speakers: extraordinary!
Folk #1; Folk #2; Folk #3; Folk #4; Folk #5; Folk #6; Folk #7.
Peter Forss: bass; Per "Rusktrask" Johansson: alto and sopranino saxophone, bass clarinet, alto flute; Goran Kajifes: trumpet and Modular Synthesizer; Daniel Karlsson: Grand Piano and Crumar Organ; Janne Robertson: drums.