Richard Burgess, Anders Adin & Patrik Wingard,
Doggerland
(Sjelvar, 2007)


This is music redolent of salty sea air. Of course, it sounds even better. The title refers to the landmass that once connected England to the rest of Europe; in this recording, Richard Burgess, Anders Adin and Patrik Wingard set out to create their own musical Doggerland with a melange of English, French, Swedish and Norwegian music, new and old.

The instrumentation is eclectic but dexterous, with Adin on hurdy-gurdy, Burgess on concertina and Wingard on harjedalspipa. Burgess, who sings on many of the tracks, has a clear, strong voice that any sailor would be proud to have, and he sounds every bit the part, especially on the raunchy "Rambling Sailor." All 12 tracks are distinctly nautical, yet robustly folksy, and walk a fine line between tradition and innovation.

The CD opens with a linked pair of upbeat, traditional Scottish melodies, "Because He was a Bonny Lad/Rusty Galley" on guitar, hurdy-gurdy and clarinet. Literature buffs will be pleased to discover an embedded Robert Burns fragment, sung with a charming brogue.

The pace is predominantly brisk, though Adin's instrumental composition "Monicas Slangpolska" offers a brief interlude. It's followed by "Mardi Gras," which combines an early French dance tune and a Cajun song by the Balfa Brothers, both celebrating the holiday but separated by centuries and continents. The notes suggest that the two tunes are distantly related, but it's still surprising how seamlessly they fit together, united by Adin's skillful hurdy-gurdy. Postmodernism never sounded so good.

The more narrative songs on the CD include Burgess's "Luxborough Galley," which puts an ironic spin on the true story of an 18th-century slaving ship, and "Glorious Deserters," a tribute to the executed British deserters of World War I.

The contemporary songs are occasionally less compelling than their traditional counterparts, but the CD turns out to be surprisingly cohesive. At just under 50 minutes, Doggerland may not last as long as its geographic namesake did, but it's an intelligent intercultural project and a solidly enjoyable recording.

And don't worry: this nautical CD has no campy pirate songs or yo-ho-ho-ing -- though there is just a bit of rum.

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Rambles.NET
review by
Jennifer Mo

29 March 2008


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