Music Reviews

Artist: Frode Haltli
Title: Avant Folk
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hubro
Composed by Norwegian accordion player Frode Haltli, “Avant Folk” is a sombre 5-part, dectet ensemble performance that sets out to deliberately span genres- it’s got the instrumental qualities of music that fits under the broad umbrella of folk, both familiar Western European aspects and some more Eastern and African tones in the rhythms and melodies. But in Venn diagram terms it also falls comfortably within the circle of jazz, particularly avantgarde and atmospheric, improvised-sounding and freeform.

“Hug” opens with a feelgood, almost Celtic-folk-dance-like arrangement that, over the course of seven minutes, dips into darker, more chin-stroking territory.

“Trio” and “Gratar'n” are both more sombre, properly melancholic affairs driven by plaintive, meandering violin work, inbetween which “Kingo” is a work in several parts that feels like it has an undisclosed story-telling element, soundtracking a relatively jovial journeyman fairy tale the details of which are undisclosed.

Final piece “Nied” gives things a more jovial twist thanks to the ambling accordion work and gentle guitar playing, and slow tempo variations that give proceedings an almost drunken flavour.

Save for the light touches at each end, it’s a very sincere work, highbrow and in parts quite low energy, often frosty in a manner fitting to the artwork. As such it’s a piece of avantgarde crossover that’s more accomplished than it is accessible, and is more likely to be appreciated than it is to be liked.

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