'Folke Nikanor' - 'Rymden enligt Folke Nikanor’ (album)
I try to avoid looking at artist Press Releases before writing a review for fear of inadvertently writing something which the record label / PR people want me to say, but sometimes this kind of messes things up somewhat. The new 'Folke Nikanor' album is a really enjoyable listen, and one of the biggest compliments I could think of when I first heard it is that in places it reminds of Christian Gabels amazing '1900' project, so of course the fact that it turns out that it is actually recorded and mixed by none other than Christian Gabel himself is maybe a lesson that I should just read the PR stuff in the first place, but also an indication that this is an album definitely worth taking a listen to.
So of course regular readers will know that we covered 'Folke Nikanor' back in 2018, courtesy of a lovely album entitled 'Bottenvoken', which was one of my more listened to albums of that year, a charmingly conceived folk influenced instrumental romp, inspired by the forests and hills of his native Norbotten. The good news is that he's back, and the new album 'Rymden enligt Folke Nikanor’ ('Space According to Follke Nikanor') builds on the themes of the first album, but this time using space as an inspiration.
It opens with a previously released single 'Saliga äro de renhjärtade', which takes a lovely melody and then adds gorgeous layers, textures, colours and a dash of the old Gabel himself when the choir is slowly introduced with a really touching subtlety. I guess the danger with this style of music is that it could get a little 2 dimensional, but the use of guest vocals adds a different texture to the tracks, with 'Komet' featuring Annika Norlin, and it's a lovely dreamy melodic track which balances the instrumentals and vocals really carefully. 'Rymden enligt barnen' returns to the instrumental format, with piano leading the way, whilst 'Släkten firar' has a laid back wandering theme which is possibly my favourite instrumental track on the album,
'Sångfåglar' features Frida Johansson, and again the vocals add a lovely extra dimension to the music, whilst in 'Altersbruk revisited' he takes the theme from 'So Long Altersbruk' (from his 1st album) but creates a darker variation, which backed by the cyber influenced synths. 'Det var en gang' is slightly less impacting, but I possibly need to understand the meaning of the spoken words more. However 'Mångalen' really hits the mark, with delicate variations of the opening theme before jazz inspired piano contributions develop the track in an alternative way, and the stately 'Stenstoden' concludes the album.
'Rymden enligt Folke Nikanor' is a really enjoyable listen, and in many ways it probably is a more 'developed' album than his previous release. It is certainly true that if you don't like the 1st couple of tracks then it's unlikely you'll want to pursue the rest of the album, because there is such a distinct style and not too many dynamic variations. But to me this is also really unusual and innovative music, with some marvellous folk inspired tunes, thrown into a different time and dimension, and the use of guest vocals on the album is particularly effective. 'Folke Nikanor' will always be welcome in Nordic Music Review, and even if a complete album in this style might not be your thing, there are plenty of tracks to playlist that I think everyone will enjoy.