Nils Økland: viola d’amore, Hardanger fiddle, violin
Rolf–Erik Nystrøm: saxophone
Sigbjørn Apeland: harmonium
Håkon Mørch Stene: percussion, vibraphone
Mats Eilertsen: double bass
Hard on the heels of his critically-lauded – and distortion-saturated – collaboration with rock players in Lumen Drones comes the next fine album from Norway’s Hardanger fiddle master, Nils Økland. This performance at National Sawdust marks Økland’s US Debut, and is a stop on his way to perform at the Big Ears festival.
His new band makes a quieter but richly creative musical proposal. All the musicians are well-known in diverse contexts: Mats Eilertsen’s elegant bass has been heard on ECM recordings with Tord Gustavsen, Trygve Seim, Wolfert Brederode and Jacob Young. Håkon Stene is a Norwegian contemporary classical percussionist of distinction. Harmonium player Sigbjørn Apeland collaborated with Økland previously on Lysøen – Hommage à Ole Bul. And new music saxophonist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm has played extensively with Frode Haltli in the trio Poing. On Kjølvatn most of the music is from Økland’s pen but each band member contributes his unique perspective to the arrangements. As Nils says: “Over the years I have moved between a wide range of genres from classical violin to Balkan folk, rock, jazz, free improvisation and Norwegian folk music. I’ve always composed my own material inspired by all these expressions. In early baroque music – another musical style I let myself be inspired by – it was common to have sketches as the basis for making new music. In this band we work with methods influenced by this.” Kjølvatn was recorded at the Østre Toten stone church outside Lena, in Norway’s Oppland county. The church, long noted for its excellent acoustics, also factored into the music-making of the album.