(Drone, 1997)

This is an album for which it would be worth learning to read Swedish. Sagskara's specialty is recordings of well-researched and well-played Swedish folk music, and Krook! is a strong addition to the group's resume.

The album takes its name from Samuel Krook, who described folk music in southern Sweden during the 18th century. The album surveys the music of Varend in the southern Swedish province of Smaland; it is a sequel to a previous recording by some of the same musicians, Hook! Like Hook!, Krook! takes its repertoire from old manuscripts and notebooks.

In the liner notes, there are English and French summaries giving a concise account of the album, but the voluminous Swedish notes for each track are clearly more detailed. The music does speak for itself, however. Like the group's other albums, Krook! should appeal to lovers both of folk and of early music. In a sense, it is both types of music at once. Many of the instruments will be familiar to early music fans; there are also special items such as the Kalvsvik harp, a Swedish analogue to the better-known Celtic harp. The sound of many pieces is very medieval, but listeners familiar with more recent Nordic folk music will see the roots of that music in this older variety.

Many of the pieces are dance music (mostly polskas), but there are ballads, hymns and wedding music as well. There is a good mix of instrumentals and songs. The variety of the pieces (no less than 26 comprising over an hour of music) ensures that any listener will like some pieces better than others. The range of sounds is sure to pique the interest of anyone curious about the evolution of music in Sweden.

Krook! is another fine effort from Sagskara. It is an album where very old tunes are released from the archives and into the air where they can be heard once more. For that alone, Sagskara deserves credit. This CD will open up new horizons for many listeners.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 3 May 2003