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The Nordic Fiddler's BlocThe Nordic Fiddler's Bloc
Album: Deliverance
Label: NFB
Tracks: 10

Three fiddles, three countries, one unique sound. Olav Luksengard Mjelva, from Norway, Kevin Henderson from Shetland and Anders Hall from Sweden are the appropriately named Nordic Fiddler's Bloc, and this is their second album. Actually, there is some variety in sound, courtesy of Hardanger fiddle, octave fiddle and viola, but the sound here is essentially horse hair on string.

The tracks vary in pace and style. Opener "Talon's Trip to Thompson Island" a spritely blast of Arctic breeze composed by Henderson, gives way to a slowly accelerating Swedish Polka from the repertoire of Johan Johansson Flink, and then to Mjelva's tribute to Shetland.

Much of the remaining material is composed by Mjelva and whether bowed or plucked as on the title track, the standard of playing is exceptional, if the style is somewhat austere. Somewhat against the grain "In the Lounge" is a tribute to a notorious Lerwick hostelry of which I myself retain only vague memories, whilst "Halls Lilla Vals" conjures Swedish rural dance from the nineteenth century with grace and verve combined. A couple of Shetland reels shows the ability of the trio to combine with gusto, whereas close "Nodaret (The year of Sorrow)", as the sleeve notes, is a rather dolorous depiction of "a not so great year". One can only guess, but as the band majors in "Nordic" perhaps some grimness is permitted.

An album which showcases three to-class performers combining their skills to good effect.

Harry Thomson