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Nor NORCD1215

Another of those awkward firm-of-lawyers-type ensemble namings! This one’s built around the fiery talents of fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers (founder of Norwegian-Scottish band Fribo), whose pioneering use of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle allied to her penchant for improvisation have always lent her own music a distinctive personal sound. Here, the product of Sarah’s contemporary approach to Scandinavian and Highland fiddle traditions is complemented by the driving guitar of Juhani Silvola and the creative double bass playing of Morten Kvam.

The album’s title, by the way, is a Scots term for “a report of bad behaviour, especially in cases of church discipline”, and yet there’s no sense of “folk behaving badly” here, although they do employ an exorcist at one point! There may be hints of jazz and experimental music on occasion, but much of the album’s music sounds to be fairly solidly based on tradition (although over half of the 11 tracks are Sarah-Jane’s own compositions), notably the exhilarating strathspey-and-reel combination inspired by a folk tale from her childhood, whereas at the other end of the experimental scale she conjures some extraordinary sounds indeed on the frenetic Speed Limit. Juhani’s fine guitar work kicks off a sparkling duet on the pair of 3/2 hornpipes taken from The Highland Collections, while his mastery of the traditional idiom is shown on his own reel-like composition The Lumberjack.

Perhaps my only slight misgiving about the music on this disc arises on the slower-paced selections like Max & Sophie’s and Merrily Sailing, which at times seem to meander calmly around repetition rather than develop in any meaningful way – but this is only relative, and there’s always much to intrigue and enjoy within the intelligent musical patterns conjured by Sarah-Jane’s collaborators.

David Kidman


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This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.