SERENDIPITY is such a lovely thing to encounter, especially when it leads to a joining of courses and like minds finding each other.
Responding to the invitation of Norwegian fiddler Hans Kjorstad, Alasdair Roberts, who’s been beguiling us with his music since those days with Appendix Out back in the late Nineties, made a deep connection with a group of musicians well-versed in folk, jazz and free-playing.
It’s these diverse musical traditions, but also the correspondences between them, that inform the forthcoming album-length dialogue between Alasdair and Völvur, The Old Fabled River, out at the end of next month, which sees the six together investigate both Nordic and Scots traditional tunes and some new songs from Alasdair.
On this album Alasdair Roberts and Völvur meld worlds which have so many more climatic, cultural and folkloric correspondences, far more than they have differences: fiddle and vocal styles from the Norwegian valleys blend with clarinet, saxophone and metallic bowed guitar drones, all within the bounds of baroque folk arrangement.
There’s three-part a cappella on the Robert Burns-written “Song Composed in August,” as suggested by Fredrik; a traditional Scots night-visiting air; two Norwegian tunes, sung by Marthe Lea, concerning the sun coming up and then it setting once more, and four originals from Alasdair, all love songs – of sorts.
Alasdair’s gathered us round today to reveal a little more of what we can expect, after last month’s “The Green Chapel”; as with that previous track, he’s giving us an exclusive solo rendition of “Orison Of Union”, a song which he tells us notes love’s human frailty, drawing strength from the powerful symbols in nature.
“Orison of Union” has the the air of an air, if you will, to be played out on high day or holiday, maybe near the end of the eve when the shadows gather and thoughts turn to reflection. Alasdair sings of “the rocking cradle and the open grave,” as Völvur serenade with a naked acoustic beauty, folk as played on a gallery, unadorned and all the more resonant for it.
Watch out for our full review in the week of release; The Old Fabled River is thoughtful, textural, nuanced, a record of depth, and I for one hope Alasdair og Völvur is a collaboration that bears more earthy and earthly fruit.
Alasdair Roberts og Völvur’s The Old Fabled River will be released by Drag City on July 23rd digitally, on CD and on vinyl; and can be ordered in your preferred format, here.