Music

Triakel: Songs from 63 Degrees N

Gypsy Flores

Delicious traditional Swedish music -- with harmonium! -- from the band named after dark, sweet licorice.


Triakel

Songs from 63 Degrees N

Label: NorthSide
US Release Date: 2004-09-14
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

When Emma Hardelin sings with the group Garmarna she uses her "take no prisoners" voice and makes every song's lyric sound dark and foreboding. With Triakel we see her "sweeter" side, her sense of the wonder, mystery, and humor in the world. When Triakel's members first decided on a name for their trio, they chose the word "triakel" which is the name of a dark, sweet licorice. The "sweet" was Hardelin and her lovely voice; the dark is represented by the two male instrumentalists -- Kjell-Erik Eriksson on fiddle and Janne Strömstedt on harmonium.

The use of the harmonium in traditional Swedish music seems rare but is, nonetheless, a very interesting addition and blends well with the minor keys and droning melodies of their fiddle tunes. Hardelin's warm, expressive, and highly ornamented voice is the icing on the cake.

Most of their repertoire is derived from the region of Jämtland in Sweden and is often sung in that dialect. The tunes are all played with acoustic instruments and there are no electronic devices or drums to enhance their natural rhythmic and melodic beauty. The tunes do not require any hocus-pocus; they stand-alone. These three musicians utilize their extraordinary gifts for the musical tradition that they grew up with by standing back and playing the music in a straightforward, honest, and direct manner. They let you see not only the beauty behind the music but the modern relevance of maintaining the tradition. As individual musicians they are not "purists" per se; but they formed Triakel for just this purpose -- to get away from their work with other more "modern" Swedish groups such as Garmarna and Hedningarna.

Songs from 63 Degrees N is the third recording by Triakel. As with its first two recordings, Triakel gives us an excellent choice of material to listen to. Even though the casual listener might say, "Oh, why buy another one if it is all going to sound the same..." -- this is indeed not the case. Although the instrumentation and vocals are the same, the choice of material is dynamic and soulful all at once. Many are played in the spirited traditional dance rhythms of Sweden -- polska, waltz, schottishe -- and some are hymns and dark ballads.

For those of us who are not fortunate to speak Swedish, the liner notes include an explanation for each of the song's "stories" and one can go to NorthSide's website for the actual translations of each song.

Although some of the tunes in their repertoire are newly composed, they have all the thematic elements of the ancient ballads, including love, death, betrayal, village humor, and children's nursery rhymes. One such tune is "Lilil-Pe I Floa" ("Wee Willie Wattie", written in 1976 by Ollie Simonsson of Offerdal (Jämtland)):

"Where are you goin'?
Said Wee Willie Wattie
As I stood by the door
In my jacket and cap
If you're off to the farm
I don't wanna go
I might get the cold in weather like this.

I'm goin' to the farm
To get some milk
For you to have in your gruel today
But it's cold and it's snowin'
And a hard wind's blowin'
So you don't have to come with me."

The song continues to heap on enticements with each verse until Wee Willie Wattie (apparently Ollie Simonsson's son) decides to go inspire of the "colds and stuff".

For the most part, the album is just the trio of Hardelin, Eriksson, and Strömstedt, but Anders Larsen joins them as guest vocalist on "Min Docka" ("My Pretty Maid"). Larsen is a folk singer and a former classmate of Hardelin's when she attended music school in Malung, Sweden. The song is one of those dialogs between a young man who seeks to entice a young woman into his arms; she scorns him and refuses to be "led astray" by a bold deceiver. Larsen sings the words of the young rogue and Hardelin the "pretty maid" (which, if truth be told, she really is).

Hardelin seems to be one of those incredibly hardworking musicians who has her fingers in many projects. I have taken an interest in her career ever since I heard her on Garmarna's first CD many years ago. She has worked on several projects, including one of Swedish-speaking musicians in Estonia. Triakel is definitely a group to watch out for and all three of their recordings are worth seeking out. Thanks to NorthSide for the tireless efforts to make what they like to refer to as "Nordic" music available outside of Scandinavia.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.