Frode Haltli's 'Avant Folk', which boasts an all-star cast of Norwegian musicians spanning all ages, generations and genres, sits somewhere in the twilight zone between jazz, contemporary and folk music.
'This is the beautiful world of Frode Haltli. It combines embellishment with devilry, alternating between the church and the forest.' (Arild R. Andersen, jazzinorge.no)
The opening track of 'Avant Folk' is like a dream of what contemporary experimental folk-meets-jazz-meets-chamber-music might be. Composed by Frode Haltli, 'Hug' begins with a galumphing off-centre rhythm that could be an accompaniment to elephants waltzing before the wheezing bellows-breath of Haltli's accordion creates delightfully airy whispers of noise that drift across the other instruments like wisps of cloud across the sky.
Elsewhere, as the album develops, the folk references expand to include echoes of west African desert blues, east European gypsy swing, Armenian double-reed laments and lugubrious Nordic village knees-ups on a range of material partly adapted from traditional hymn-tunes and songs from Norway and the Faroe Islands to form a kind of north Atlantic gumbo. But 'Avant Folk' never feels like a slapdash fusion of different elements mashed together without regard for the integrity of the whole. Importantly, the band always sounds like a proper band, as fleet-footed as any improvisational jazz ensemble, and able to hurdle with ease the normal generic divides separating one type of music from another. By the time the listener reaches the end of the album's final track, 'Neid' another Frode Haltli composition, like the opening 'Hug' 'Avant Folk' has effectively created its own genre, a pleasingly congruent collection of stylistic traits that sounds like nothing so much as itself. All the music, whether composed by Frode Haltli or adapted from antique sources, is arranged jointly by Haltli and the band members.
Personnel Frode Haltli accordion Erlend Apneseth hardanger violin Hans P Kjorstad violin Stale Storlokken harmonium, synthesizers Rolf-Erik Nystrom saxophones Hildegunn Oiseth trumpet Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir guitar Juhani Silvola guitar Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson double bass Siv Oyunn Kjenstad - drums