GROUPA, ANON EGELAND
For the last two decades Groupa has aggressively pushed a progressive strain of Swedish folk music, both exploring a wide variety of traditional material and modernizing it in original songs. The 1995 anthology 15 Years (released on Northside in 1998) chronicles the mixed results of their experiments: techy flourishes and quasi-jazz noodling turn "Imeland" into an overdone fusion exercise, but the way Indian percussion percolates up through the wildly sawing fiddles on "Varm Hog" is mesmerizing. The combo's new album, Lavalek, is more consistently contemporary--wonderfully rumbling off-kilter funk pulses beneath some melodies, while others are bathed in gentle ambient textures, and the sporadic emergence of Sofia Karlsson's rhythmically elastic vocals sweetens the group's primarily instrumental repertoire. The opener on tonight's bill, Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Anon Egeland, has a more preservationist bent: on last year's lovely, all-instrumental Anon (also on Northside), playing the droney Hardanger fiddle (an eight-stringed instrument with four strings that are played in the usual manner and four that resonate), he braids the sprightly dance rhythms and pretty melodies that distinguish Scandinavian folk. Egeland also plays mouth harp, recorder, and flute--and though the music sometimes sounds related to Celtic folk, on the winds he conjures a haunting melancholia that bears little resemblance to Erin-go-bragh exuberance. For this gig he'll be joined by longtime accompanist Leiv Solberg on guitar and mandola. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Catherine Edwall.