Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sinikka Langeland -The Land That is Not (ECM 2011)

Five years after the stunning ECM debut recording of the Norwegian singer and kantele player, here is a sequel to the critically-lauded 'Starflowers'. The album features an all-star Nordic line-up of improvising second-generation ECM players with Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and saxophonist Trygve Seim, Swedish bassist Anders Jormin, and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari once again joining Sinikka in adventures at the junction of folk song, literature, and jazz-rooted improvisation.
The press loved 'Starflowers': "Sinikka Langeland is a gifted folk singer, but not one stifled by tradition, (and) the quintet is superb, Henriksen and Seim play brilliantly off the voice and each other, while the group catches a variety of moods persuasively; they groove with understated power." (Irish Times) And they will warm also to 'The Land That Is Not'. This time around Sinikka sings poetry of two influential Scandinavian outsiders Edith Södergran (1892-1923) and Olav Håkonson Hauge (1908-1994). The two poets now count as forerunners of literary modernism in Sweden and Norway, but made most of their artistic discoveries in isolation.
Born 1961 in Finnskogen, Sinikka Langeland has been playing the kantele, the Finnish table harp, since the early 1980s when she expanded her 'folk' repertoire to include rune songs, incantations, and old melodies from Finland and Karelia, as well as medieval ballads and religious songs. Her third ECM release follows 'Starflowers' and 'Maria's Song'. The latter - an Editor's Choice in Classic FM magazine - had Langeland and distinguished classical musicians weaving folk melodies between the timeless strains of J S Bach.
Langeland's group is really a band of leaders, all with recent ECM projects of their own: Markku Ounaskari issued 'Kuára', improvisations on Russian psalms and Fenno-Ugrian folk songs. Trygve Seim's last disc was 'Purcor' with pianist Andreas Utnem, cross-referencing improvised church music with folk and theatre music. Arve Henriksen's 'Cartography' proposed an even broader map of moods and sounds, from medieval song to sampling and sound-processing. Anders Jormin's new release for 2012 is based around ancient Latin texts.
Personnel: Sinikka Langeland (vocal, kantele), Arve Henriksen (trumpet), Trygve Seim (soprano and tenor saxophones), Anders Jormin (double-bass), Markku Ounaskari (drums)