Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Celtic music and Nordic music meet: Fribo

The name of the band Fribo means open house, and the name of their most recent album, Happ, means be of good cheer. That’s a welcoming and inviting description of the music they create, a music born of intersection of past and present, of culture and land and style, of voice and instrument.

Fribo is a collaboration of talents from Norwegian singer Anne Sofie Linge Valdal, Scottish fiddler Hannah Read, Liverpool born Ewan MacPherson on guitar and Swedish percussionist Magnus Lundmark. Valdal, MacPherson, and founding band member Sarah Jane Summers, a fiddler and composer from the Highlands of Scotland, sat around a kitchen table in Edinburgh several years ago and started exploring the musical connections between Nordic lands and Celtic ones, and what they could create with those ideas. Three albums on, Happ sees the band adding light and energy to what's become known as Nu Nordic music, a style that explores the present, respects the past, and at times suggests the future of Celtic and Nordic traditional music.

Happ comprises eleven tracks, many of them sets which pair compositions by band members with traditional tunes. MacPherson, Valdal, and Summers (who rejoins the group for a number of the tracks on the album) each contribute compositions while all band members add to arrangements of contemporary and trad pieces. There are waltzes and lively dance pieces, quite song and driving tune. Playing for dancing is a big part of the music in the Scandinavian countries as well as in Scotland, and one of Fribo’s strengths is a fluid integration of the varied strands of dance music ideas in a way that respects and suggests the tradition while offering a sound not quite like what has been heard before.

Notable tracks include a set which joins the traditional tune Pipevise with Outlaws Don’t Dance Waltzes, written by Summers, and a set which finds MacPherson singing the Robert Frost poem Miles to Go paired with his own winter reflecting tune The Promise. All the tracks are keepers, indeed, and it is an album that’s meant for more than one listening to reveal all its depths, as well.

Fribo have been nominated for recognition at the Scots Trad Awards, and voting is open through 18 November. Should you take a look at that site you’ll find Emily Smith, the Unusual Suspects, and others you have met here along the music road up for awards as well. Best wishes to all.

you may also wish to see
Sarah-Jane Summers shares the best of the Highlands
another Fribo album The Ha' o' Habrahellia
Music Road: from Scotland: Emily Smith: Traiveller's Joy

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Living Large said...

This sounds like a great CD to check out. I've been enjoying discovering new music lately.

11:22 AM  

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