These CDs arrived in the same small package — I love international deliveries! They often use interesting wrapping materials, many are hand-addressed, and of course they are liberally ornamented with wonderful, exotic postage stamps. We are well-known to all the local delivery people for getting almost daily deliveries of goodies like these.
As you can tell from the name of the label, these are both Danish releases. According to their website, GO’ Danish Folk Music has been around for about a decade. It’s a small indie label that released 11 CDs in 2007, the year these two came out. I recognize one other band on the label, Phønix; I think we have copies of all the CDs they’ve released.
Violinist and composer Kristine Heeboll actually played with Phønix on two of their early releases, Udbrud (1997) and Live (1999). She also performs with a group called Trio Mio, which includes Nikolaj Busk on piano and accordion and Jens Ulvsand on bouzouki and guitar. Although five other instrumentalists play on 10 Point, Kristine’s violin is front and center. The CD features 10 tracks, ranging in length from two to five minutes. Typical of Nordic (as well as Celtic) instrumentals, a number of these are medleys of multiple tunes, including jigs and polskas. Although the tunes are based on folk motifs, Kristine wrote them all and did most of the arrangements. The production is clean and spare, more like chamber music than an orchestra. The overall impression is one of tastefulness that stops just short of fomenting boredom.
10 Point comes in a cardboard folder rather than the standard plastic jewel case. An inside pocket holds brief liner notes in Danish and English, providing a bit of explanation about each of the tunes, a list of the personnel and a really nice photograph of Kristine sitting on a park bench. 10 Point seems to refer to a game. Of the tune named ’10 Points,’ Kristine writes: ‘Remember, you get 10 points for seeing a field with cows, but they all have to be lying down.’ This is a charming, highly listenable CD. My only complaint is that it’s just over 40 minutes long. You’ve barely gotten into it and it ends!
Henrik Jansberg’s Omnivor is a whole other kettle of fish, if you know what I mean. Like Kristine, Henrik plays strings — violin and viola, in this case. According to his website, he also teaches violin at the Køge Music School. The CD features his band, whose members play drums, guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, double bass and nyckelharpa. That should give you some clue about the sound — it’s pretty dense, and not at all folky. Mind you, I am perfectly fine with rock sounds if that’s what the band is about. But on Omnivor, the bass and drum sounds are mixed so far forward that they dominate the other instruments on most of the tracks.
The CD is very short, just over 38 minutes, with 11 tracks. I had a very hard time pinning down the style, because it varied rather widely from track to track. So, for example, I noted that the title track has a driving rhythm that reminded me of the Austrian Celtic band Smoky Finish, while ‘Mac Davis’ sounded like David Grisman’s fiddle playing, ‘Mallemuk’ took on a country sound with the dobro, and ‘Amaricana’ had a particularly loud, heavy bass line.
Omnivor is in a conventional jewel case. The liner notes, in Danish and English, explain the process by which the band recorded the tracks (at various times and in various locations), list the personnel by track, and confirm that Henrik composed most of the material. There’s also a somewhat unnecessary explanation of the meaning of the title; that is, that an omnivore eats both plant and animal foods. I would venture to say that the title also refers to the stylistic variations to be found on the CD. I’m afraid I didn’t find them entirely palatable.
(GO’ Danish Folk Music, 2007)