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GO Danish Folk GO1218  

Quite a short second album from this band whose debut release was my favourite CD of 2017: Neighbourhood is filled with the same sense of fun and fantastic musicianship, but is quite different in that all the material here is old - traditional tunes from Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. The four Floating Sofa members are Sweden's Malte Zeberg on upright bass, Finnish melodeon mistress Leija Lautamaja, and two Danes: fiddler Clara Tesch and woodwind wizard Mads Kjøller-Henningsen. Between them they play mainly dance music including polkas, jigs, Hamborgers and waltzes. The two tunes on Skånebitar could easily be Northumbrian 3/2 hornpipes, such was the cross-over between Tyneside and Teutonic musicians. Mäkelän Sulon Polkat is a pair of twinkling Finnish polkas, great melodeon tunes which could easily transfer to East Anglia. On the gentler side, Näckens Vals is a beautiful and ancient Swedish air, and the stately Reventlow & Storm comes from 18th century Danish manuscripts. The flute, fiddle and bowed bass turn this track into almost a Baroque trio sonata. Swedish bagpipes are entirely appropriate for Reventlove, a pair of tunes familiar to Scottish and English pipers, and also to Danish musicians.

One of the great attributes of the Floating Sofa Quartet is its ability to bring out the best in old and new music, in a range of traditions from the far north of Finland to the tip of Germany, and in both fast and slow pieces. Neighbourhood shows them to be masters of their own traditions as well as creators of a contemporary repertoire. This recording winds down with another feisty Finnish polka, a gentle Danish dance to a lovely simple tune, and a final Finnish waltz with all the grace and poignancy of Manouche music. I hope FSQ will be touring extensively, as I would love to see them on stage, but in any case their CD should be widely available and is a delight for anyone with an interest in Nordic music. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.