Oliver Schroer O²: Solo Fiddle

Oliver Schroer, who for years has led Toronto world beat collective the Stewed Tomatoes, arrives with a beautiful two CD set of solo music on an unusually misunderstood instrument: the fiddle. Schroer is eager to remove the stringed instrument from the more pretentious implications of violin music, and while he is well versed in the fiddle’s roots in jigs and reels, there’s much more going on here. 23 tracks of unaccompanied fiddle may sound like a recipe for muzak disaster, but this is a remarkably beautiful, collection that resists the temptation to get jiggy. Schroer’s musical language is full of haunted melodies that seem to spring from his very soul, providing a rare combination of surprise and familiarity. The liner notes and explanations of different songs, where he postulates on the nature of music and its spiritual importance to us all — he’s calls the collection “whimsies, melismas, fractal reels and prayers” — tend towards the hippie-dippie at times, but here, it’s the music that speaks volumes, which is how Schroer would prefer it. (Big Dog Music)