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Review: Anita Skorgan, På gyllen grunn

Anita Skorgan
På gyllen grunn [On Golden Ground]
[Kirkelig Kulturverkstec (2011)]

Norwegian singer and songwriter Anita Skorgan is well known in her native country as a pop and contemporary singer, with strong ties to Norway’s entries in the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1990s. So it’s not surprising to hear that her first release in 10 years, På gyllen grunn a recording of stark, minimalistic songs inspired by artist Emanuel Vigeland, has met with mixed reviews in Norway. The lyrics to the songs, inspired by the work of Vigeland, were written by KKV’s founder Erik Hillestad and paired with melodies to little-known Norwegian folk songs. The album was recorded in Vigeland’s mausoleum in Oslo in a room decorated with his work “Vita,” a piece illustrating human bodies from all stages of life, with Vigeland’s ashes in an urn above a low door. Given the setting, it’s not surprising to find the music is meditative, intense, and reflective.

Skorgan is backed by trumpet, lute, electric guitar and drums, much of it free flowing and almost hymn-like in nature. It’s a challenging recording, one for late nights, candle lights, and quiet reflection. But if you embrace the concept (probably easier for us here in the States without any preconceived ideas of Skorgan’s previous work) you’ll be richly rewarded with a truly unique recording. [www.kkv.no, available in the US from www.scanspec.com]

Here is Anita Skorgan performing “Alt Hva Gud Har Skapt Er Rent” in the mausoleum of Emnauel Vigeland:

—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)

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