Svobsk, En Klang af Tidloshed (A Sound of Timelessness) (Gateway Music, 2009)

En Klang af Tidloshed is the second CD from this Danish neo-traditional band. Their first outing, Sig Mig (Tell Me), was issued in 2005. Back then, the band was a duet, with Maren Hallberg on accordion and Jorgen Dickmeiss on stringed instruments (violin, octave mandolin and viola) as well as vocals. On En Klang af Tidloshed, they are joined by Nikolaj Busk on piano and Tira Skamby on percussion.

The CD runs just over forty-eight minutes long and features thirteen tracks, the longest of which is five minutes long. With one exception, a traditional piece titled ‘I Can See in Your Eyes,’ all the tunes are original compositions written by members of the band.

Both the music and the band members come from Fyn, a relatively large island located to the west of Copenhagen, which is on yet another relatively large island. Denmark’s folk music program is based at a conservatory on Fyn, where Maren and Jorgen met and became collaborators in their music as well as in their lives. They’ve played at venues (including clubs, churches and schools) in their home country as well as in Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Poland, Scotland and Germany.

I would characterize these tunes (and one song) as bright and upbeat overall. The production is sparse and clean, the instruments work well together. Although I can definitely hear the Nordic folk influence, I found the melodies and arrangements to be more generally European in their effect, comparable to Bellevue Rendezvous, for example. My favorite piece is about a little boy and a dragon. It starts out very slow and dignified, then bursts into a very lively dance tune complete with tambourine!

According to the band’s very useful Web site, the name Svobsk is pronounced: ‘swirbsk’ - with the ‘ir’ as in bird. It refers to a dance in which two people turn around and around in a close embrace until they become very dizzy. Sounds like great fun!

[Donna Bird]