Aha, another Nordic CD to review. First cut is “Spel Nisses Vals,” a lovely waltz with just a hint of the Germanic oompah influence. I’d better head out to the beer garden for the rest of this CD.
That’s better. As my beer cools off in the sub-zero winds of January, let me introduce the band. JP Nystroms are Markus Falck on fiddle, reed organ, durspel, and bass; Anders Aasa on vocals, guitar, flutes, mandolin, and bass; Svante Lindqvist who does fiddle, vocals, and durspel; Mats Olausson who besides playing fiddle also gives us percussion and recorder; Goran Eriksson with his vocals, fiddle, and bass; and finally Olov Falck on durspel, percussion, zither, and you guessed it, fiddle. (Sorry, no nyckelharpas).
Stockholm 1313 Km is a greatest hits compilation of a fine Swedish folk band. The tunes are great out of the gate, and I actually became nostalgic upon hearing the fourth and fifth selections, “Pojkarna pa landsvagen” and “Hambomazurka efter Blomqvistarn,” respectively. They recall ethnic music from the roadhouses of the American Midwest of the 1920s and ’30s, the kind of stuff that until relatively recently could be found only on 78 rpm records. JP plays it in its pristine form, but its influence on American Ragtime and Bluegrass is unmistakable.
The band prevents the project from quite becoming a fiddlers’ convention despite the preponderance of the things. “Oceanangaren Titanics undergang” has a sweet guitar and flute duo for its introduction. “Sankte Per” is a good-natured story-time song. “Mennett fran Oravais” features a haunting recorder. “Sa mork ar himlen” is there with its melody line delivered with Teutonic precision. The CD wraps up with an experimental piece titled “Bjorn dansen.” In between, the fiddle playing is quite good.
Well, the beer has frozen in my glass and my lip has frozen to the beer, so I’d better go back inside. Once the frost goes off Stockholm 1313 Km, I’m going to put it in for another spin. JP Nystroms play a great selection of folk tunes from the northern and central European traditions; their arrangements are impeccable. I think it no exaggeration to dub them Sweden’s version of Canada’s La Bottine Souriante stripped down to the essentials for mountain climbing action.
(Resource Records, 1996)