Anders Norudde,
with Leo Svennson
& Goran "Freddy" Fredriksson,
Med Hull Och Har
(GIGA Folkmusik, 2003)

Anders Norudde is probably best known for his work with the influential Nordic group Hedningarna. His expertise lies not only in playing instruments such as fiddle, moraharpa, bagpipes, didgeridoo and flute, but in building them as well. Here, on his second solo album, he plays a mix of traditional Swedish music and original compositions on fiddle, moraharpa and bagpipes. Friends Leo Svensson and Goran "Freddy" Fredriksson help out, Svensson on cello and Fredriksson on bouzouki and guitar.

This trio configuration is somewhat similar to that of Vasen; "Matses Polska" is even shared with a Vasen album. In other words, any Vasen fan should check this album out; Hedningarna fans already have an obvious reason to pick it up. Like most of Giga's catalogue, Med Hull Och Har is a no-frills collection of Swedish fiddle-centered music. The liner notes (in Swedish and English) include an interview with Norudde and his comments on each track.

Although the trio is similar to Vasen's arrangement, the music is darker than that group's work. The full trio does not appear on all tracks, either; many feature Norudde and Svensson as a duo. Svensson's cello gives a deep bottom line to the music that is distinctive. Most of the tracks accentuate the odd meters and dissonances that give Nordic traditional music its character. "Spiken" is a polonaise turned ominous. "Trekvart" is a cheerful tune filled with "sour notes," as Norudde puts it. Some of the traditional tunes have had their tunings tweaked, and there are original pieces by Norudde and Svensson that sound traditional. "Kniv-Gret" features a particularly nice interplay between Norudde's bagpipes and Fredriksson's bouzouki.

Those who prefer more harmonious sounds will enjoy the inviting first track "Hagholm" or "Glad-Johan," but most of the rest requires an enjoyment of minor keys and odd tunings. Those interested in Nordic music will find Norudde's comments about the tunes and tunings enlightening. Once again, Giga has released a terrific album for those who love this musical genre.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 21 February 2004