Benedicte Maurseth - Hárr [Hurbo - 2022]
Benedicte Maurseth is a Norwegian hardanger fiddler and singer, and Hárr is her fifth full-length solo album. The nine-track affair brings together element’s of traditional Nordic folk, rousing-yet- earthy soundtracking/ improv, rural field recordings/ voice recordings, and subtle ambient/ electronic texturing.
The album appears on Norway’s Hubro- been released as either a vinyl or CD release- I’m reviewing the latter. The CD comes present in a glossy mini gatefold sleeve- for its artwork we get a monochrome picture of a ragged and weathered man surrounded by livestock- this is from the 1930’s, & is Frantz Gustav Andersson Törna (Sæbø)- Benedicte's great-great-grandfather.
For the album, Benedicte plays the fiddle, as well as writing & producing all the tracks. She is joined by Mats Eilertsen-Double Bass, Electronics. Stein Urheim - Langeleik, Harmonica, Electronics, Sampler, Percussion. Håkon Stene- Vibraphone, Marimba, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Electronics. Jørgen Træen- Electronics. The featured tracks have runtimes between two and seven minutes, with the whole album coming of a largely varied and consistent release.
The album opens with the “Augnast” here we find lulling vibe pulses, been moodily swept and simmered by fiddle playing, as atmosphere feedback shifts at the edges. Moving on have the wavering and bluring flow of “Kollasj I” which electro hazed instrumentation is overlaid with expressive male talk, cowbell shimmer, and what sounds like elk mouth crunching & fly buzz. There is the jaunting jig and earthy string swoon of the title track, which features some great forking bass work & otherworldly string additions as the track progresses. “Kollasj II” blends melting and hazed male voice chatter, lose bass strums and skittering beats with surreal blend of cascading string picks and water recordings. With the album playing out rising brood meets felt emotion of “Snø Over Sysendalen” which brings together shadowy bass drifts, high pitched fiddle swoon and bay, with moodily hammered vibes and subtle guitar tones appearing later on.
Hárr is a self-assured and creative record, which finds Maurseth blending both keen moodiness, and a dreamy sense of remembrance for times and life’s past- all with a distinctive Norwegian focus and flair.Roger Batty