Norwegian Fiddler Annbjorg Lien Announces New Album Khoom Loy

“If you like moody, sometimes dark, folk music, punctuated by beautiful musicianship and artistry, then you will find nothing to dislike here.” —PopMatters

“Lien’s spectral fiddling proves hauntingly absorbing as it introduces the past to the future.” —The Washington Post

A virtuoso of Norwegian traditional music deeply inspired by the music of other cultures, fiddler Annbjørg Lien crosses musical borders as a pioneer for true “world music.” Khoom Loy, Thai for “Paper Lanterns,” is Lien’s eighth solo album and explores a broad spectrum of traditions ranging from her traditional Norwegian folk to Irish and Asian music, with Lien playing her native Hardanger fiddle as well as the keyed fiddle. Lien says of the album, “this is a tribute to a lovely ritual of the East: releasing lanterns in remembrance of the dead, or as a prayer for a good life. They serve as bridges connecting us to the past and the future, the east and the west, tradition and innovation.”

Steeped in the music of other cultures, Khoom Loy also represents a first for Lien—her world vocal debut to stunning effect, notably on the title track and “Den Storste Daarlighed,” which also offers a unique fusion of the Indian tabla with Celtic whistles. The album features Bjørn Charles Dreyer, Hans Fredrik Jacobsen, Bjørn Ole Rasch, Per Elias Drabløs, Per Hillestad, Orsa Spelmän, Kristiansand String Quartet, and Pat Broaders.

Winner of the Garmeleng Prize for classical folk and the Hilimar Award in her native Norway, Lien is also is a member of the world music fiddle group String Sisters (Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Liz Knowles, Catriona MacDonald, Liz Carroll and Emma Härdelin) and has collaborated with American fiddler Bruce Molsky amongst many others. Lien comes from a musical family and learned traditional music from her father and classical music at the music school in Ålesund. She has since been teaching privately with other top musicians, including Hauk Buen from Telemark.

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LORCÁN MAC MATHÚNA – Northern Lights – Darkness And Light – Own Label LMMO11001

Lorcán Mac Mathúna is best known in Ireland as a Sean-Nós singer. He’s also a man of great imagination and Darkness And Light (Dubh Agus Geal to give it its Irish title) is the first result of his Northern Lights project, exploring the links between the music of Ireland and Scandinavia.

If you think that’s odd, Lorcán explains that a thousand years ago Dublin was a major Viking ship building port and the cultural cross-fertilization was evident as late as the 16th century. If you still doubt consider ‘Sven In The Rosegarden’ and ‘I’m Sick To My Heart’ which bear strong similarities to British ballads. All the songs on this album are traditional, sung in Irish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English. Lorcán is joined by Raphael De Cock, James Mahon, Connor Lyons and Joey Doyle in a band heavy with drones, whistles and flutes. There are two sets of pipes, hardingfele and Jews Harp producing a haunting, almost mediaeval sound when coupled with the vocals of Lorcán and Raphael.

‘Over The Waves’ mixes two songs, ‘Hermond Don Idde’ and ‘Craigie Hill’, with alternate verses in Danish and English leading into two rather jolly tunes. ‘The Frozen North’ again alternates verses, this time in Norwegian and Irish, telling a story which has parallels with ‘The Ship In Distress’ and is the most haunting performance on the album.

Although Dubh Agus Geal may appear at first to be a rather scholarly and esoteric work it is also extremely listenable. Not only do the players mix songs they also mix dance tunes with hardanger fiddle, pipes and lilting into something new. There is a great deal to discover in this record and much to enjoy.

Dai Jeffries

Artist Web Links: www.lorcanmacmathuna.com