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Frode Halti - Border Woods

  by Keith How

published: 27 / 11 / 2019

Frode Halti - Border Woods
Label: Hubro Music
Format: CD


Inventive Norwegian accordion player Frode Halti offers with new album another chapter of progressive Scandinavian folk music and again proves to be the master of genre-fusing improvisation and composition

I am sitting by the window with an early morning cup of tea. Mist drifts across the garden. A hazy sunlight is trying to break through. I had popped Frode Halti’s 'Border Woods' in the CD player. The opening track 'Wind Through the Aspen Leaves' emerges just like the sunlight outside in the morning mist. The atmospheric drone carries a sense of peace and calm. This soundscape is just beautiful and evocative. 'Mostamagg Polska' follows. Led by Halti’s accordion and nyckelharpe played by Emilia Amper, this lively fifteen-minute piece is a bright and sparkling folk tune that develops into an epic journey. Halti and Amper exchange some wonderful instrumental interplay, complete with abstract flourishes and poetic melody lines. Often straying into traditional folk territory and sometimes referencing sea shanties, this is a superb composition that gently ebbs and flows with a lovely sense of optimism. 'Wood and Stone' is two minutes of playful percussion that is an unexpected surprise. At first seeming out of place within the atmosphere of Nordic pastoralism. the clever percussion adds an unusual touch to proceedings. 'Border Woods' begins and ends with ambient landscapes but in between Halti continues his journey into his Avante Folk wonderland. The tracks are unpredictable and inventive, often joyful, sometimes emotional ('Taneli’s Lament') taking Nordic traditional music and sounds into a new space. 'Valkola Schottis' begins quietly before sensitive percussion ushers in a joyful folk-tinged reel accompanied by marimba. Hints of Indian and Arabic scales and progressions are cleverly interwoven into the Nordic flavours as East Meets West. What Frode Halti appears to be doing with his Avant Folk project is to seamlessly integrate traditional and ancient music from many different cultural streams to provide a totally new listening experience. His chosen instrument, the accordion, is found in most folk music across Europe and the Americas, and so provides a base for his explorations and compositions to be expanded. The closing offering 'Quietly the Language Dies' encompasses everything we have heard on the previous five tracks and is a fitting end to yet another chapter is this engaging musical journey Frode Halti is taking us. Another wonderful release from Hubro that is full of quiet confidence and beauty.

Track Listing:-
1 Wind Through Aspen Leaves
2 Mostamägg Polska
3 Wood and Stone
4 Taneli’s Lament (Sorrow Comes To All…)
5 Valkola Schottis
6 Quietly the Language Dies

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Avant Folk (2018)
First-rate latest album from Norwegian accordion player Frode Halte pushes back his musical boundaries with a hybrid of influences

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