This splendid 2019 disc by Väsen shows the musicians that make up this fascinating Swedish trio heading off to the interior landscape of their child- (and sometimes) adulthood and making friends with the simple life all over again. The result is – once again – music that rides the diaphanous wave of a diaspora that begat the Celts (and therefore) not only the magical cultures of all of Northern Europe stretching from Sweden to the British Isles, but also – as the widely-travelled Celts (and in this case, Swedes as well) do, memorable visits to lands as far removed as Sweden is from Japan. Anyone who’s travelled with Väsen before is sure to be seduced in to travelling with them again.
You can hear the sense of wondrous freedom in the musician’s individual and collective voices as they remember, for instance, “Krutgumman”, the homage to Mikael Marin’s mother when she turned 80 years of age. The elegance of their playing and the finery of their ornamentation on specially built violas and cellos, on nykelharpas and exotic guitars, for which they have now come to be known. And the music that results – not just on that track but on every other one too – becomes part of a vivid landscape that mixes beauty and danger, the sounds of the wind in the grass, the voices in song bouncing off oak tables in rustic kitchens and dining rooms. It’s all performed on repertoire that is full of beautifully crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness.
In the ultimate analysis nothing can match the brilliance not only of the travel, but of the musical conversations that unfold as a result. Mikael Marin bows some Raggmunk and Lingonberries, Gravlax or Kräftskiva into the strings of his violoncello as does Olov Johansson bake the crust onto his kontrabasharpa as they draw Roger Tallroth into the sautéed mix. On traditional valses and polkas – as on others – the music draws us in as if beckoning us to some rare and a delectable sensory experience in a candlelit barn on a moonlit night. Whether evocative of such cold winter nights or long rainy days, each track takes us into some special – almost mystical place – with trusted and inspiring musical friends on an album to absolutely die for…
Track list – 1: Typhoon Nozaki; 2: Hörrgårdar’n; 3: Rosenlundsvalsen; 4: Josefin; 5: Hållfastmarschen; 6: Elsa; 7: Vals För Gitarr; 8: Miss Hell; 9: På Väg; 10: Krutgumman; 11: Till Gösta; 12: Posh Forest; 13: Långburken; 14: Bissellåsaren; 15: Svimmelpolskan
Personnel – Mikael Marin: 5-stringed viola “Poiana” 2005 built by Per Klinga, violoncello da spalla 2018 built by Per Hardestam with bow built by Ulf Johansson; Olov Johansson: 3-rowed nykelharpa 2015 built by Espyörn Hogmark, kontrabasharpa 1989 built by Hans Gille with bows builot by Jean-Claude Condi and Hans Gille; Roger Tallroth: custom 12-string guitar built for special “Roger Tallroth” tuning and string setup by the excellent luthier Mats Nordwall, and “Gammelgura” parlour guitar by Hans Jirowsky, customised by Roger Häggström
Released – 2019
Label – North Side (NSD7102)
Runtime – 49:19