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Waulk Music WAULK08

Following her exploration of the sonic potential of the nyckelharpa (or Swedish ‘keyed fiddle’) on Harpaphonics, this second release makes the instrument central to “a musical Viking route… from the northernmost fringes of the Baltic, drifting across the North Sea to stop off in Scottish harbours, sailing west towards Ireland and joining the Atlantic before bearing south to land on sunny North African beaches.”

Combining original compositions with fresh arrangements of traditional material, Swedish fiddle and dance music forms the structural hub with spoke excursions taking in Celtic Irish, Gypsy manouche, African (Gnawa) and jazz inflected elements, and even seeking a sonic evocation of the Dartmoor landscape (Crazywell Pool). The essential linchpins are Griselda (nyckelharpa, fiddle, viola, piano, percussion) and Louis Bingham (guitar, bouzouki, tenor guitar, e-bow), supported by Moroccan player Simo Lagnawi (guembri or bass lute) in a fascinating musical dialogue on a piece inspired by the Clydesdale dray horse, and elsewhere some other guitar and percussive support that ably increases the music’s melodic and textural invention.

Beautifully recorded with sparkling clarity, Griselda and Louis’ abilities to fully realise the rhythmic and melodic potentialities of their respective instruments and to interweave them to sophisticated effect, provides compelling interest throughout. The nyckelharpa’s full sonic spectrum, from earthy ethereal ambience and resonance to svelte classical chamber grace and stateliness, expressing moods from mellifluous and mellow to melancholic, are encompassed in the radial range of the venture, with the crisp and propulsive supporting fretted guitar work proving to be the ideal sinuous symbiotic companion.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.