Record Review: Susanne Lundeng - Et steg ut.Written by Karl Erik Sylthe
Susanne Lundeng claunching her seventh CD on KKV. I've listened to it.
Susanne Lundeng has a very long history with releases on KKV. After the debut album Havella which was released on the label Heilo in 1991, she has released seven CDs on KKV, including Et Steg Ut .
She was born in Bodø in 1969, and folk folk music seems to have been a part of the basic diet in the childhood. She soon became interested in folk music from Nordland, and it is as a keynote of all her recordings. And on Havella it was the folk music in a more or less natural packaging that was on the menu.
But already on the first recording Drag at KKV the horizon was extended. Items from rock was clearly present in this quartet with Kristin Skaare , Stan Poplin and Finn Sletten. And the four subsequent releases can be considered a constant exploration of side slopes show / jazz / pop / rock / blues. But all the time with folk music as keynote. And it is tempting to assume that the constant shifting of fellow musicians on the album releases have been a conscious part of constantly exploring new terrain. Throughout this long period, it is also increasingly her own compositions being performed.
A little apparent change of direction was t on he album Courage (Mot), published in 2011. Below there is a clear shift towards classical / contemporary music, especially in what for me is the releases` most exciting part. Imella is composed by Norway's perhaps most prolific composer of contemporary music - Rolf Wallin, and here performed with Bodø Sinfonietta. Imella is also part of a very exciting SACD release of Grappa in 2011, where there are several works by Rolf Wallin.
On Et Steg Ut , which was released a few days ago (20/06/14), I find a continuation of the terrain explorations that were started with the CD Mot . Or strictly speaking, there have been performances with hints of classical / contemporary music also on earlier releases, not to mention all that I did not listen to when record companies microphones have been turned off.
Engegårdkvartetten are partners in this release. They are previously known from three beautiful multi-channel SACDs on 2L with a mix of old and newer composers, and more freleases are in the horizon. It is a partially renewed Engegård Quartet playing here compared to the one on the 2L releases.
I had a first assumption that the title one step out (et steg ut) reflects a musical direction. I have gradually come to that title probably has a different meaning, for otherwise I would have been inclined to rather called the disc One Step Back In. For Susanne Lundeng has obviously been on a musical journey for over 20 years, where she has moved to the edge of the home area folk. But there has been a journey with increasing distance away from the base, rather a sideways movement. And on this record, I find that her ever-present folk music base is even clearer than in many previous releases, except perhaps the last - Mot.
The music is very clearly marked by the chamber crew, and a very strong synthesis of folk and classical / contemporary music. It is more subdued and low-key than most she otherwise have made. On my absolutely favorite World Road (Verdensveien) she sings well and it is a poignant voice that emphasizes it's something she could well have made more of than the few songs we have received on previous releases.
Another musical highlight for me is The anniversary (Merkedagen). An almost meditative music with repetitive elements that make fleeting mind wanders to Arvo P ä rt , although the music is of course very different
Susanne Lundeng`s distinctive tone is an important ingredient in this album. Along with some bold, dense harmonies it gives a very great personality that permeates the whole release in a greater uniformity than I've experienced on other recordings.
I get the urge to move on a thin branch now. One biographer wrote a book about Miles Davis that he actually was a blues singer - a blues singer who had the trumpet as voice, and jazz as arena. And I'm tempted to say something similar about Susanne Lundeng - a blues singer with folk music venue and fiddle as voice. For like Miles Davis, it is not music genre that is the essence of the music she creates - it is the strong personal musical expression. And with the base in the Nordland folk music, it is this strong expression that is the cornerstone of her music. Then the music genre and form become a bit indifferent. This personal tone of Susanne Lundeng have a more than a little touch of melancholy, just like with Miles Davis. There is an unmistakable vulnerability in Miles Davis' tone, and there is something of this in Susanne Lundeng`s violin tone too.
And then I will draw another comparison with Miles Davis. Although he created entirely new directions in jazz four times, he never let the focus off his own musical past. He always had his own and the world's jazz past with him as an important element. Therefore he also declined consistently callim himself an avant-garde artist, despite all his radical innovations. Also, I think this can be transferred to some extent to Susanne Lundeng`s music, although of course this is nowhere near as fundamental musical innovations as Miles Davis stood for.
In my previous album review with a release from KKV of Seterkauk the sound was not quite on par with the very best of KKV. But here it defenitely is! Great resolution, detail and perspective, and with good dynamics. Brilliant! The review is by the way based on audio files in 24bits/96kHz, not CD.
Susanne Lundeng has again created an exciting release, where she further explores the surrounding terrain to folk music. And when the sound in addition is top-class, the result must be excellent!
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