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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 2, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: February 2, 1999
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ryko Distribution
  • ASIN: B00000I04K
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,055 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Olav Bergsland
2. Huldra-Mi
3. Trebakken
4. Huldreslatter
5. Noringen
6. Ande
7. Fjellmanngjenta
8. Huldreslatt
9. Spelar Guro
10. Baansull
11. Bygdatraen
12. Baansull

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Steve Tibbetts doesn't make it easy. The innovative Minneapolis-based guitarist has cut some of the most idiosyncratic albums to come out of the German ECM label. Since moving to Hannibal/Rykodisc, he's given them the difficult but critically acclaimed album called Chö, setting the chants and hymns of Tibetan nun Choying Drolma to an abstract ambient landscape. Now there's A, an album of ambient chamber works centered on the hardingfele, or Hardanger fiddle. The hardingfele is a violin with a flat bridge and sympathetic strings like a sitar. Usually played as a solo instrument, it sounds to the uninitiated like fiddler Vassar Clements playing an Indian raga after his dog has died. But once you get past the atonality of the instrument, it opens up a world of hardscrabble tradition and that isolated, forlorn character that goes deeper than a Nordic cliché. Steve Tibbetts has been intoxicated by this sound for years, and on A he teams up with Norwegian hardingfele player Knut Hamre, clearly a Heifitz of hardingfele. Joined by a core group of fellow hardingfele player Turid Spildo, Tibbetts's longtime percussionist Marc Anderson, and jazz bassist Anthony Cox, the guitarist orchestrates ambient improvisations and atmospheres that hark back to his ECM debut, Northern Song. Like that album, A--also recorded in Norway--brims with haunting moods and textures that splinter like the spider-web cracks of an ice-covered lake. This isn't Norwegian folk music. Instead, it's the hardingfele spirit that is steeped in Nordic mythology and legends of trolls. You can just picture the gnarled creatures cavorting to Tibbetts and Hamre's dance. --John Diliberto

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karl W. Nehring on July 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Minnesota guitarist Steve Tibbetts has long been one of my musical heroes, not only because of his musical talents, which are many, but because of his friendly spirit and his willingness to reach out and find musical treasures and then bring those treasures to light by making wonderful recordings of them. This CD came to me along with a little note that said "Dear Karl--Here's my latest CD. Rykodisc isn't sure what to do with this one. They like it, but they're a little unsure about marketing strategies... Thanks a lot. I appreciate your keeping me on your mailing list. I read each and every issue [of The $ensible Sound -KWN]. I think I may have bought my last set of speakers, however. This CD would be a cool-sounding vinyl thing, and I'm not even an analog purist."

Knut Hamre is a master of the Hardingfele, which Tibbetts explains is a Norwegian fiddle that has sympathetic (drone) strings under the fingerboard. The drone strings help give it a rich and resonant tone, and for the on-site recording sessions in Norway, Tibbetts used one microphone close to the instruments and another about 20 feet away in the Utne church where he recorded Knut Hamre and fellow Hardingfele player Turid Spildo. Tibbetts explains that he and percussionist Marc Anderson would play for a while with Knut and Turid, setting a mood, and then when the spirit hit, Knut and Turid would play while the tapes rolled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sean E. Kutzko on December 22, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Steve Tibbetts is impossible to pigeonhole. This is a good thing for the adventurous music listener. Part of my joy of listening to Steve Tibbetts over the last twenty five years is listening to his latest release for the very first time. You simply never know what to expect with a Tibbetts release...it could be as electric and raw as Exploded View, as achingly subtle as Northern Song, or an interesting mix of the two such as A Man About A Horse. When a musician as diverse and complex as Tibbetts collaborates with another, the end result is at once familiar and foreign, as in the case with Cho and Selwa.

I bought this CD years ago without previewing a note. All I knew is Steve had released another CD, and that was all I needed to know. I'm indebted to him for completely transforming my definition of what music is. I'd certainly never heard of a hardingfele before this CD, let alone heard what one sounded like. Once again, Steve turned me on to something completely foreign and made it familiar.

This CD, like most of Tibbetts' releases, is strong in visual imagery. The hypnotic drone of the hardingfele couples with Steve's guitar work and the minimalist approach to percussion to create luscious mental pictures of very, very cold places, yet incredibly beautiful; crystalline mountain peaks with a bonfire in the valley below. The music is simultaneously warm and melancholy, giving the same feelings as a warm cabin in the middle of nowhere...comfortable in its loneliness.

I only play this CD in the winter, when it's cold and snowy outside. When I am able to smell the wood from a fireplace as the New England air chills my face, this is the soundtrack.

Sean K.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Colin R. Glassey on November 18, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Each "song" on this record sounds just like the previous one. And they don't sound that good. Now, I am a huge fan of Steve Tibbetts. YR, Safe Journey, Exploded View, these are all fanatastic recordings filled with beauty and wonder. However, this record is dull and boring. Not "good dull" like "Northern Song", which is a subtle, mysterious "ambient" record.
Bottom line: when ECM releases a lot of records by an artist, then fails to release a new record by that same artist, there is reason to worry. (This record was released by Hanibal Records, all previous Tibbetts records have been released on ECM, with the exception of last year's "Cho").
Does Manfred Eicher (the founder and head of ECM records) have good taste in music? In a word: YES. After all, its not the case that ECM is in this business because they make tons of cash...
In case you wonder why I say this, the most recent record from Stephan Micus (Beyond 11 Deserts) is similar to this record: not good, and not released by ECM records.
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By IRate on June 4, 2010
Format: Audio CD
3 1/2

Some repetitious textures, particularly on Hamre's part, cannot inherently diminish the expansive minimalism's intoxicating allure.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Oberuc on December 15, 1999
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Long ago I used to listen to Steve Tibbetts albums. Now I listen to his CD's. But this particular duet is missing something. It's not bad. It's very restful and relaxing. Yet most Tibbetts music has a dynamic quality: some pieces wind you up, and some relax you. This entire album relaxes to the point where you may start to wonder: how are the musicians staying awake? But if you are a serious Tibbetts fan, it's worth having.
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