How could I possibly turn down the chance to review a track called ‘Harald Bluetooth’? Just in case you didn’t know, old Harry (full name Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson) was a king of Denmark and Norway in the 10th century, the son of King Gorm the Old and of Thyra Dannebod (seriously) and responsible for the introduction of Christianity in Denmark. He was deposed from the Danish throne by his own son, Sweyn Forkbeard.
They don’t call me ‘Wiki’ for nothing.
One thing Wiki doesn’t tell you though is whether Harald was able to use a hands-free cell phone in his chariot. I’m guessing that’s where he got his nickname from.
But enough of the mirth, this is serious music, and I mean serious. The track is taken from the album ‘bånd’ (tapes, ties or bonds, but nothing to do with BDSM), on which Line Kruse, a Danish violinist, composer & arranger, brings together her various backgrounds in jazz, classical and Latin American music, spiced up with more Nordic-inspired tones.
Apart from Harald, there are references to the Goddess Freja and the poetic melancholy of Danish nature (which is of course encapsulated in the Scandi Noir TV programmes to have come out of Denmark in the last decade or so).
It isn’t an easy track to get your teeth into for several reasons. It opens quite timidly, like the theme music to a TV nature programme about the coming of spring. Then it develops into what could be the soundtrack to a 1970s TV spy series, like Man in a Suitcase, or The Man from Uncle. Perhaps one of the Death Wish movie franchises or a Columbo episode, you know the music that plays while the main character is moving around the city between action shots. Even the bit where the action fades out ready for the commercials break.
But it hasn’t finished yet. About a minute and forty seconds in it changes direction again, this time into what I could best describe as jazz-influenced prog rock. As if Yes or King Crimson had accidentally walked in on a recording by Miles Davis and agreed to a jam.
Exactly how it is connected to Harald defeats me, but who cares?
Lack of time regrettably prevents me from delving deeper into this album, on which a total of 24 musicians participate including guest vocalists Helgi Jonsson (Iceland) and Cæcilie Nordby (Denmark), also Line Kruse’s French string ensemble, Bow Lines, and her Danish “all-star” septet, consisting of Jesper Riis, Frederick Menzies, Steen Nikolaj Hansen, Peter Rosendal, Kaspar Vadsholt and Jonas Johansen.
But if the standard is this good throughout – and I’m sure it is – it is well worth a listen, whatever your musical preferences are.
Line Kruse says, “I called the album a bånd because it makes so much sense right now. A tribute to everything that binds us together, to our countries of origin and adoption, to our cultures which are mutually enriched by our meetings and coincidences.”
Line Kruse is a classically trained violinist and a renowned composer and conductor. She has had worldwide tours as a solo violinist with the electro-tango group Gotan Projekt, recordings and concerts with i.a. Youn Sun Nah, Orlando ‘Maraca’ Valle and Céline Dion. Line Kruse has released six albums recorded in Cuba, in Paris and in Copenhagen.
This sort of modern day rock-enthused jazz is popular in Norway, with bands like Falkevik and Eberson, but this is the first time I’ve come across it from Denmark. Perhaps Harald has returned from Valhalla to unite the two countries again.
‘bånd’ is released April 22nd.
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