Anders Norudde, Kan Själv! (Drone Music, 2000)

Anders Norudde, Leo Svensson, and Goran ‘Freddy’
Fredericksson, Med hull och hår (GIGA Folkmusik, 2003)

Lennart Gybrant and Anders Norudde, Böndernas underverk (GIGA Folkmusik, 2005)

Various members of the Green Man staff have reviewed CDs from the Swedish band Hedningnarna (the Heathens) over the years. Anders Norudde, once known as Anders Stake, was a founding member of this band and is still a mainstay in their eclectic, neo-traditional sound. We have had a copy of Kan Sjalv (I can do it myself), his solo CD, since it was released. A few years later, we tracked down a copy of Med hull och hår (Line and Sinker). I offered to review these CDs as part of a Green Man retrospective on Nordic roots music.

Anders and his wife Ingrid adopted the surname Norudde in honor of a cottage they renovated on the northern edge of the Udden headland near Lake Olen in the Swedish municipality of Degerfors. He is a native of this region of south central Sweden and got interested in folk music after a stint playing rock guitar. He spent four years studying the making of violins in the Italian tradition and has made and sold several fiddles. He plays a number of instruments, including the fiddle, the moraharpa (an early form of nyckelharpa), Swedish bagpipes and willow flutes. Not surprisingly, he also collects folk instruments from all over the world.

Kan Själv! provides a wonderful look at the many talents Anders Norudde has to offer. Running just over seventy minutes long, it features twenty-six relatively short instrumental tracks, including a combination of traditional tunes and compositions written by Norudde himself. Accompanied only occasionally by Goran ‘Freddy’ Fredericksson on guitar and bouzouki, Norudde plays the moraharpa, fiddle, Swedish bagpipes and willow flutes. The production is very sparse and clean, the tunes are quite memorable. Kan Själv! is one of those CDs I listen to over and over again.

On Med hull och hår, Norudde shares the spotlight with two other artists (‘Freddy’ Fredericksson again on guitar and bouzouki and Leo Svensson on cello). So (except on tracks 8 and 16, which could have come from Kan Själv!) the sound is completely different, reminding me of Vasen more than anything else. This CD runs sixty-three minutes long and features twenty-five short instrumental tracks. The English liner notes in this CD are extensive enough so that I can actually say something intelligent about the tunes. I can tell you that Anders composed five of these tunes, Leo another two. The rest are adaptations of traditional tunes that Anders has been collecting for several years. Most of the tunes can be characterized as dance tunes, waltzes and polskas and quadrilles.

While I was writing this review, I discovered that a third CD from Anders, Böndernas underverk (Farmer's Miracle) was available at a price I was willing to pay. I ordered it, of course, and it arrived in the mail a few days later.  It’s just over fifty-two minutes long and features twenty-six tracks, thus upholding the approach favored by Anders and collaborators on the two earlier releases---lots of really short pieces. These are also traditional dance tunes, almost exclusively polskas, from Visnum, Sweden, near a lake west of Stockholm where the oldest surviving musical instrument crafted from animal horn was found. The English translation of the liner notes indicates that Anders and Lennart met over twenty years ago and began playing tunes together in the last few years.   Like Anders, Lennart is a multi-instrumentalist. On this CD, they both favor fiddles, with the occasional use of the moraharpa and mouth organ for variety. The overall effect is a bit too sparse and staid for my taste, I’m afraid.

[Donna Bird]