STEVE TIBBETTS — Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: Å (review)

STEVE TIBBETTS — Knut Hamre and Steve Tibbetts: Å album cover Album · 1999 · World Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
M.Neumann
Strictly speaking, Steve Tibbetts was the guest at this 1999 recording session, a collaboration between the Minneapolis guitarist and two kindred spirits from half a world away: Norway's Knut Hamre and Turid Spildo. It had to be a match made in musical heaven, combining the typically fluid playing of Tibbetts' (on acoustic guitar) with the evocative sound of the hardingfele: a rustic local fiddle employing a series of sympathetic strings to give it a rich ethnic ambiance.

The resulting album offers another fascinating example of Tibbett's active interest in esoteric World Music, in this case the ancient folk tradition of rural Scandinavia. In keeping with the unplugged spirit of the moment Tibbetts was joined by his old friend Marc Anderson (adding a sprinkle of hand-held percussives) and a small string section, including harp and psaltery. Together this multi-cultural ensemble creates a melancholy sound conjuring the bleak but beautiful landscapes of both the northern Minnesota prairie and the permafrost of backwoods Norway.

There is some beautiful music here, but 54-minutes are more than enough for a single sitting: after a while a certain monotony creeps into the set. This is an album that doesn't exactly encourage active listening, but it can provide ideal background music for churning butter, knitting woolen socks, or taking long, brisk walks across fallow winter farmland. Approach it in the right frame of mind, and be transported.
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