Peter Bryngelsson’s (more about whom later!) new project Jordmån is an adventurous folk concept piece that fuses traditional tunes, original compositions, and instruments all under the umbrella of Jazz På Nysvenska (aka Jazz For New Sweden). Given Brexit and all of that, it’s still nice for a British folk magazine to say something complementary about one of those EU guys (Sweden to be exact!) just because good folk music sings, thankfully, a universal language.
Is it jazz? Well, not really in the Blue Note or Impulse classic sense. The first instrumental tune, ‘Brudmarsch efter Larsshoga Jonke’ (Trust me, there’s a missing umlaut here or there!), is a Swedish folk melody melded to a Peter B original, ‘Brudsangslat’, played on a very American drobo! He is joined by slight exotic percussion, violin, and sax. This is an acoustic flight that is a Swedish take on say, Paul Winter’s Consort or their brilliant spinoff Oregon during their Vanguard years with albums like Music Of Another Present Era or Winter Light. Jazz Pa Nysvenska also echoes the sound of Ireland’s Chieftains, as it (much like Paddy Maloney & Company) colours ancient folk melodies with intensely beautiful musical superlatives. Allan Stivell did the same thing with his ÅÅÅconceptional Celtic Symphony. And, to stretch the comparison, it elbows endless boundaries like Bert Jansch’s all instrumental (and quite great) Avocet.
Odd ‘Klara Stjarnor’ and ‘Stjarnmelodi’ swell with a big acoustic ensemble sound that conjures the absolute beauty of the very strange record Phases Of The Moon, which is an album of Chinese traditional music. And that drobo (with some pedal steel) plays Americana homespun sampler music throughout all the big cinematic world folk sound.
In truth, this music simply teases the brain with sharp and very angular Swedish folky thoughts, while resonating with downhome musical candor. ‘Berg-Kirstis Polska’ spins around that plucked drobo dancefloor with (what sounds like) a crumhorn, which double date with a viola and bass–with Swedish heritage as a chaperone. It’s polka chaos worthy of The Albion Band as they gazed at The Prospect Before Us.
Just so you know, Peter B’s new album is a nod of admiration to Jan Johansson’s famous 1964 album Jazz På Svenska, which jazzed up folk tunes with piano and double bass arrangements.
That said…then there are vocals. ‘Visa fran Utanmyra’ introduces a piano into the mix, with a slight bluesy vibe and a typical Swedish dramatic voice, not unlike the very excellent Lena Willemark with her equally excellent band Frifot, which includes Ale Moller and Per Gunmundson, or the brilliant live album by Enteli (again, with Lena on vocals), whose liner notes suggest, “a musical universe where everything is possible and nothing infeasible”. There are more vocals: ‘Visa Fran Rattvik’ sings with more drama, as a violin cuts against glass with deep percussion, and there’s a (somewhat) funky array of tradition Swedish instruments—and I think there’s a nyckelharpa in there someplace.
Now, for a bit of Swedish rock history: Peter Bryngelsson played in the band Ragnarok, whose first album was laced with acoustic beauty, while later albums like Fjarilar I Morgan and (my personal favorite) Fata Morgana ventured into really great adventurous prog rock music. He also played in Triangulus (with famous flute guy Bjorn J-Son Lindh!), Kung Tung, and the always popular Urban Turban—who played classic rock songs like ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘That’s All Right Mama’ through the a very strange Swedish eyeglass with Captain Beefheart-like vocals! It’s all great stuff for the adventurous mind.
Just so you know (again!) – my computer spellcheck is flashing red distress signals due to the overload of excessive consonants and those darn umlauts! But the show, as it is said, must go on: ‘Skanklat Fran Leksand’ is a moody piece that could almost be a not-so-psych infused tune by The Third Ear Band, with that drobo anchor touching dry power, while a sax searches inner space and echoes the beauty of the song ‘A Home In The Meadow’ from the very American film How The West Was Won.
There’s more: ‘Visa Fran Jarna’ swirls with more folk beauty. Again, the sound of The Chieftains comes to mind. ‘Polska Efter Hook Oile’ gets (sort of) bluesy, and then does gets jazzy with (yet more!) drobo and a pulsing sax. Perhaps, Joshua’s Jericho biblical horn simply blew apart “the mind forg’d manacles (Thank you, William Blake!) that, as Elvis Costello sang, are “trying to anaesthetize the way that you feel”. This album does just that. Oh—the mandolin driven ‘Ganglek Fran Alvdalen’ grooves like a Swedish take on Fairport’s ‘Dirty Linen’—with a bit of the folk band Comus thrown in for good measure. ‘Emigrantsviten’ gets moody, again, with a spoken-vocals that bleed into a wonderous sound collage. A trumpet bleats; tabla caress the tune, and a sitar bounces with joy. ‘Gammal Brollopsmarsch’ returns full circle to the initial tune with more bird calls and a heavenly psalm that glances at a beautiful medieval dream in some mysterious Swedish forest. ‘Sverige’ is impressionistic, and it dissolves into acoustic folk with a very velvet Peter B tune, ‘De Nya Uren’, which tucks this marvelous album into the soft and warm folds of a very melodic Swedish featherbed.
To quote William Blake, again: “Enough! Or Too much”. Let’s just say, Jazz På Nysveska is a beautiful record. There was a time in the 80’s when bands like Haircut One Hundred, A Flock of Seagulls, and Spandau Ballet were the darlings of music mags, and (heaven forbid!) I once contemplated buying a Grab Grab The Haddock album; and then, lo and behold, I discovered the very fertile Scandinavian folk-rock-and everything else music scene (mostly on the wonderful Silence label) that made the world, to quote the great Jim Pembroke (of Finland’s Wigwam fame!) “Sane Again”. The treasures were countless: Kebnekaise, Kenny Hakansson’s solo stuff (he plays on this record!), Pekka Pohjola, Samla Mannas Manna (with Zamla offshoots), Piirpauke, Jukka Tolonen, the before-mentioned Ragnarok, and, of course, Iceland’s favorite sons, Hinn Islenski Pursaflokkur. So, big thanks to the Breakthru’ record company and SCANAM Music. And an equal (and much belated) thank you to all those elementary teachers who drilled phonics into my pre-pubescent brain and gave me a fighting chance at pronouncing all these very Swedish and very lovely consonant confusing titles.
Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/Peterb2515/
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