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Review: Hekla Stålstrenga, Makramé

Hekla Stålstrenga
Makramé
[Ta:lik (2011)]

This is the second recording by the Norwegian band Hekla Stalstrenga, formed by fiddler Ragnhild Furebotten and guitarist Tore Bruvoll back in 2008. The group plays traditional music from northern Norway with some original compositions mixed in. The first recording was done as a duo, and they have since added drummer Ole-Jakob Larsen, acoustic bassist Trond-Viggo Solas and lead vocalist Anne Nymo Trulsen to form an acoustic folk rock band. The band has a lively up-tempo sound with an underling feeling of energy and humor.

The opening track sets the template for the rest of the recording: “Erter & Sverter” is a traditional number with four part harmony vocals, with upfront bass and drums driving the song; Bruvoll adds oud, saz, and bottleneck guitar to fill out the sound. The album has more traditional material played in a similar style. Things slow down a bit with a lovely version of Ola Bremnes’s “Har dur Fyr,” and instrumental tracks feature Furebotten’s fiddle and Bruvells banjo work. Vocalist Trulsen’s big, powerful voice is a highlight, with the rest of the band adding strong backing vocals. It makes for an enjoyable mix of both traditional and contemporary music from one of Norway’s most interesting and exciting bands. Recommended.

Hekla Stalstrenga playing live at Store Studios:

—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)

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