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STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES

Prog Folk • Iceland


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Stórsveit Nix Noltes biography
Imagine a dozen (more or less, four of whom are 'official' members) energetic Icelandic musicians, all quite accomplished on various acoustic, electric and digital instruments and weaned on post-punk and dance music, enthusiastically romping along on-stage to a bevy of Bulgarian folk-based tunes in a carefully constructed yet haphazard blast of sound. You've just conjured up STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES. The members of this collective mostly hail from established and well-known groups including SÍGUR ROS, HATEBREATH, MÚM and HESTBAK.

The band released their second album in the spring of 2009 and embarked on a tour with ANIMAL COLLECTIVE that included U.S. dates.

>>Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth)<<

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STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Orkideur Hawai
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Royal Family - Divorce
2009

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 Orkideur Hawai by STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Orkideur Hawai
Stórsveit Nix Noltes Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
4 stars This is a really charming album from an up-and-coming group whose tour with Animal Collective in 2009 garnered them some much-needed international attention after half a decade of toiling as mostly a regional phenomenon in their Icelandic homeland. Loosely formed from members of other Iceland acts such as múm, Benni Hemm Hemm, Kria Brekkan and other groups, the band currently consists of eleven members, although I believe this debut release only features five or six musicians. Not sure really, as I picked this up as an Amazon download. The band apparently has an arrangement with their label where copies of this CD are burned “on-demand”, and I’ve read they also sell discounted copies at their live shows so for anyone who’s interested you can probably avoid the cost of importing a copy to whatever country you happen to live in.

I suppose this would be classified as ‘world music’ if you found it in a record store or library, but I personally find that label kind of annoying (isn’t all music technically world music, after all?). In any case the angle is pretty simple: a bunch of Icelandic art and music students who have an intense fascination with traditional Bulgarian folk music, and have hopped it up a bit with a little indie, jazz and at times even mildly punk-influenced flair. It works.

This first album was recorded in 2005 and independently released by the band in 2006. Currently on Fat Cat Records, the group expanded to eleven members in 2006 and recorded a second album which was released in 2007 and remastered in 2008. I haven’t heard that one yet, but it’s on my wish list. This one is just a tad rough in a few places, with the improvisational jazz sections of “Isinova Oro” feeling slightly strained for example, or “Laz” with its recurrent, complex rhythm building anticipation for some sort of spectacular climax before simply petering out. But overall this is an exciting release, full of traditional Bulgarian folk music given new life in the hands of young and creative musicians from a land and culture far removed from Eastern Europe. The instrumentation is predictable – lots of brass, some strings and accordion; but also plenty of percussion and a bit of electric guitar as well. I’m reminded a bit of the band Katalena, who do something similar with traditional Slovenian music, or the American group Rupa & the April Fishes who go a bit further by combining traditional Italian, French, American and Indian sounds with original compositions for a real cultural gazpacho of folk music. The difference here is that these are all instrumentals, so for those who prefer to concentrate on the music and don’t want to be ‘distracted’ by singing, this is a real find.

All the songs here are very good, but a couple of them stand out. “Griska Lagid” is a slow number that follows a couple of fast-paced, danceable tunes and it really highlights the complexity of the rhythms and instrumental arrangements in Bulgarian music. And the luxurious note-bending of “Blagoeugrad Region Oro” reminds the listener that this music has its origins in Eastern Europe, not a frozen island in the North Atlantic. And finally, the band hints at the power and showmanship of their live shows with the romping closing song “Odessa Bulgarish”, whose gorgeous string passages must be heard to be appreciated.

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable and well-produced album, and one I highly recommend to any folk, prog folk, indie, gypsy or ‘world music’ fan. Four stars for sure.

peace

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