Mari Eggen
& Helene Høye,
Glød (Glow)
(Lindberg Lyd, 2003)

For a taste of the distinctive fiddle sounds of Norway, spin Glød, a wonderful mix of traditional and traditional-sounding pieces played by dual fiddlers Mari Eggen and Helene Høye.

The pair, hailing from the Gudbrandsdal region in northeastern Norway, provides 17 tracks of unadorned fiddle music that allow listeners to steep in the sparse, haunting sound of the Norwegian fiddle. These aren't overly lively pieces; for the most part, they are stately and highly ornamental, making full use of the layered sounds so common in Scandinavian music. (These aren't hardanger fiddles, although listeners might sometimes think so -- the hardanger is more popular in southern and central parts of Norway, while the north relies mostly on the traditional or "flat" fiddle.)

Even without a built-in drone, the fiddlers make excellent use of contrasting, sometimes even dissonant sounds, but it's certainly not the ear-flinching sort of dissonance that a lesser pair might produce. Nonstandard tunings add to the sometimes-eerie mood. These tunes are rich in atmosphere and lore, drawing on a dance tradition that might not have you hoofing it around the parlor, but will certainly catch your ear and get your foot moving in time.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 20 March 2004