Kristian Braten Berg From Senegal To Setesdal

Four musicians from disparate musical traditions come together for an unpretentious, unforced merging of two cultures. Braten Berg is a leading figure in Nordic folksong The kora player, Solo Cissokho, is a griot — a storyteller of the interaction of West African cultures. The "comparative storytelling" sensibility of all the players involved makes for a relaxed atmosphere; many times on this disc three of the four players will simply not play while one member tells his or her own story. It’s a welcome change from other types of world fusions where musicians are mere window dressing to a grandiose idea. This is also one "fusion" idea that did not arise in the usual world music hubs of Paris, London or New York and is free of the break-beatification those cities spawn. The kora tends to underpin most tracks; its harp-like sound is right at home of Nordic epics and lullabies. Instrumentally, though, the main attraction of this disc is the tag-team Norwegian and Ivoirian Jew's harp action. These two ancient varieties of mouth bow will play in relentless counterpoint as their overtones are constantly modulating. Add in some djembe bass pulses and you've got something that sounds like Nordic Goa trance produced entirely on acoustic instruments. The relaxed atmosphere is predominant and makes this disc easy and enjoyable listening from start to finish. From Senegal to Setesdal's low-key nature doesn't breed adjectives like "spectacular!" and thank goodness for that. It's just "pickin' and grinnin'" from Norway to Africa. (Six Degrees)