Frode Haltli: Hug - from the upcoming album Avant Folk by HUBRO published on 2018-03-15T13:34:26Z The opening track of ‘Avant Folk’ is like a dream of what contemporary experimental folk-meets-jazz-meets-chamber-music might be. Composed by Frode Haltli, ‘Hug’ begins with a galumphing off-centre rhythm that could be an accompaniment to elephants waltzing before the wheezing bellows-breath of Haltli’s accordion creates delightfully airy whispers of noise that drift across the other instruments like wisps of cloud across the sky. Elsewhere, as the album develops, the folk references expand to include echoes of west African desert blues, east European gypsy swing, Armenian double-reed laments and lugubrious Nordic village knees-ups on a range of material partly adapted from traditional hymn-tunes and songs from Norway and the Faroe islands to form a kind of north Atlantic gumbo. The breadth of Frode Haltli’s interests is not unusual in Norwegian music and this is paralleled by a number of his collaborators on ‘Avant Folk’, many of whom - like the inspirational fiddler Erlend Apneseth (a regular Hubro artist in a number of settings) or the keyboardist Stale Storlokken (of Supersilent and Motorpsycho, among others) enjoy similarly wide-ranging careers that weave in and out of numerous musical styles and settings. But the last word on ‘Avant Folk’ has to be the music. The album ends on the suitably epic note of Haltli’s ‘Neid’, an original composition that sounds absolutely timeless, matching a maelstrom of squeaky-gate post-serialist glissandi with an ancient-sounding dirge-like refrain. Haltli’s own stunningly adept accordion solo, its intensely emotional voicings heard against a splashy biscuit tin-lid style percussive backdrop, then gives way to the stately pairing of gently-stepping double-bass and country-roots electric guitar that in turn heads eastwards towards the Balkans before ending up back home in the northlands again, the thirteen minute performance superbly resolving itself in a final sequence of transcendent hymn-like solemnity. Wow.