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MARVARA - High On Life 

MARVARA - High On Life 
Go’ Danish Folk Music GO2121 

Have no doubt, this is feel-good music, tunes to throw back your head with laughter and momentarily forget the trauma of the world and embrace its beauty. All the pieces were composed by Belgian Marieke Van Ransbeeck over the past couple of years, and she is joined by four musical colleagues from Belgium, Sweden and Denmark. In addition to Marieke’s bagpipes and musette, instruments include accordion, cittern, bass, percussion, violin and guitar.

During her Masters Programme in Nordic Folk Music, Marieke studied at different music departments in a range of Nordic countries, meeting musicians and immersing herself in their musical traditions. It was a wonderful graduate research project which we all now get to enjoy. The release features tight combo playing, and music that is in turns quirky, soaring and complex.

Some of the tunes are adept at shape-shifting, such as Underground Schottisch, which moves from atmospherics into a stately dance and then off again. The title track is a slängpolska that celebrates the delight that comes from great music. Danish Party Vibes is a joyous-bordering-on-riotous recalling of all-night dance events from the island of Fanø, where Marieke lived for a time. There is the enigmatic Chokolade Pandekage (an ode to the mixed blessing of using an app to learn a language), and the bright soaring of the bagpipes and accordion on Waltz For Rene, which also includes some fine jazzy solos on the bass. The release ends with a relaxing and aptly-named Slow Tune.

Marvara, which refers to itself as an “international folk party band,” is a dandy addition to the music scene, and its debut release gets better with every listen.

Ivan Emke


This review appeared in Issue 143 of The Living Tradition magazine