Frode Haltli: Avant Folk II

Frode Haltli releases ‘Avant Folk II’, the follow-up to ‘Avant Folk’ (2018). The group of ten is an all-star cast of some of Norway’s most innovative and creative musicians, spanning different generations and genres. The ensemble has since 2017 played a number of international festivals, and has earned a reputation as a vital and solid live band. The music on this new studio album was commissioned by Vossa Jazz in 2019, and Joseph Woodard in All About Jazz stated: ‘By my biased account, Haltli’s mesmerizing and newly-commissioned set, for a ten-piece ensemble including Hardanger fiddle player Erlend Apneseth and conventional violin, horns (with saxophonist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, also in Haltli’s juicy cool band POING), was the most memorable show of the festival.’

When Frode Haltli founded Avant Folk in 2017, it was to continue his work in the outskirts of folk, this time with a mini big band: Drums, bass, two guitars, two winds, two fiddlers, organ, and himself on the accordion. The ensemble has a distinguished and recognisable sound that blends acoustic and electric instruments, with musical inspiration from past and present: ‘I have worked across established genres through many years now. I’ve done everything from complex scores in contemporary music to jazz and traditional music. In Avant Folk we use processes from folk music: I present a simple material to start with, that all musicians learn by ear. This way, without any scores at all, we all get a common feel of the phrasing and the rhythms, with flexibility and freedom in further elaboration of the musical material.’

About the tunes:

‘Doggerland’ is an archaeological term for the Dogger Bank, the sandbank just below sea level in the North Sea between Norway and the UK. During the last ice age, the bank was populated, and a hypothetical folk song from Doggerland should sound like a mix of Norwegian and Irish music, right?
‘It may sound like that when we play it, but when you really get into the rhythm of this catchy tune, a sudden change appears and you get thrown out into the deep sea together with synth wizard Ståle Storløkken and sax player Rolf-Erik Nystrøm. Fiddle player Hans P. Kjorstad comes along and guides us further down in this abstract undersea music, with his personal mix of archaic Nordic music and something very modern. Luckily, he is also the one who takes us back to the theme and brings us safely up on the shore again.’ 

  • ‘Track number two, ‘Nordlys’ (northern lights), is based upon a musical theme I wrote in 2014 for the German road movie Nordland. The opening features Hildegunn Øiseth on the trumpet, but the instrumentation and the mood change course during the 10 minutes long track. A dreamy piece of music, a travelogue which ends in a minimalist musical landscape.’ 
  • ‘The third track ‘Gravberget’ is probably the closest to traditional Norwegian music on this album. Gravberget is a tiny village very close to where I grew up, a couple of hours northeast of Oslo. These vast forest areas are called the Finnish woods, after Finnish immigration in the 17th century. The rhythm of the local ‘pols dance’ is asymmetrical, with a short third beat, and composed ‘Gravberget’ in this style. But when we use the traditional rhythm in a band format, I guess it may sound like West African music, or music from elsewhere, especially when Oddrun Lilja takes the music to unknown heights in a psychedelic electric guitar solo! The tune ends where it started: Fiddle player Erlend Apneseth finger picks the rhythm on two Hardanger fiddles simultaneously.’  
  • ”I Østen som i Vesten (All over the Place)’ rounds off the album. The first part of the title translates something like ‘in the East as in the West’, and the theme sounds like an old Norwegian trad song – or an Arabic maqam, depending on who’s listening! The two independent melodies of the tune both uses scales with microtones in a given system. Despite the use of traditional tonalities, the result is rather unheard-of.’  

Release details:

Hubro HUBROLP3637 / HUBROCD2637 Released 19th March 2021


Frode Haltli    accordion
Erlend Apneseth –  Hardanger fiddles
Hans P. Kjorstad –  violin
Rolf-Erik Nystrøm –  saxophones
Hildegunn Øiseth –  trumpet, goat horn and vocals
Ståle Storløkken –  Hammond organ and synthesizer
Juhani Silvola –  acoustic and electric guitars
Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir –  electric guitar and vocals
Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson –  double bass
Siv Øyunn Kjenstad –  drums and vocals

Recorded at Newtone Studio by André Viervoll, October 12-13, 2020 
Mixed by Kåre Vestrheim and Mike Hartung at Propeller Music Division
Mastered by Morgan Nicolaysen at Propeller Mastering
Produced by Frode Haltli

1. Doggerland (08.48)
2. Nordlys (10:33)
3. Gravberget (09:39)
4. I Østen som i Vesten (All Over the Place) (11:18)

All music composed by Frode Haltli, and arranged by all the musicians

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