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Per Bloch (Denmark) ft. Danai Nielsen (Greece) – Ρίζες/Rødder (Roots) (single)

I doubt you’ll ever need it but should that need ever arise, for example if your toboggan should break down on a glacier somewhere outside Kangerlussuaq in Greenland there’s a handy little online translator called IMTranslator.

Except it’s freaking useless. Ask it to translate kalaallisut (what the locals there speak, aka ‘Greenlandic’ which is slightly different) into English or vice versa and it translates into kalaallisut. Fat lot of good that is.

But why should I even need such a device, you may ask. Because there are more languages in the press release for this song than there are British dialects.

To start with, Per Bloch (no relation to the Nils Bloch that was here last night as far as I know) is Danish, but this song, ‘Ρίζες/Rødder’, (‘Roots’) is half sung in Danish and half in Greek, that part being provided by the Greek singer and composer Danai Nielsen, a solo dream-pop, synth-based composer and singer, her live concerts featuring elements of performance art, highlighted by Danai’s disguises.

And she has a Scandinavian name, having been born out of an international liaison (her father is Danish) like Amanda Tenfjord up there in Norway, who represented Greece at Eurovision a few years ago.

It’s all Greek to me as they say.

And on top of all that Per Bloch punctuates his press release with phrases in kalaallisut/Greenlandic. His track listing on Spotify looks like something that should be on the Rosetta Stone.

Coincidentally, after all that, Per describes language as “a bridge builder”. He’s a self-taught singer, composer and writer, who has published novels, children’s books and music in several languages. This is his first single, a duet in Greek and Danish.

His creativity was formed during a troubled childhood, when he spent hours alone in his room drawing, writing stories and playing music.

During a stay in Greece, he learned enough words in Greek to write a poem. He composed music to it and it became the first of several songs in different languages.

In 2016, he released the album ‘Kokoro’ with love songs in eight different languages ​​(including French, Arabic, Icelandic and Spanish) recorded with musicians and collaborators from twenty different countries.

I reckon we all understand by now that this guy is a little different. I mean Arabic and Icelandic on the same album?

The vocals for ‘Ρίζες/Rødder’ were recorded in both Athens and Copenhagen. Per met Danai Nielsen in Athens in 2023 and on the track, both singers helped each other with the pronunciation of each of their mother tongues.

He says, “The song combines past and future, senses and memories. From north to south and vice versa.” He adds that it is “A cozy and warm summer ballad carried forward by piano and percussion.

With respect it amounts to a lot more than that. The piano is weighted perfectly while the percussion involves some tasty brush, snare and bass drum work that’s played almost at metal speed at times.

It isn’t easy to pigeonhole the song into any temporal classification. It sounds like it belongs in the 1960s along with the ballads of Peters and Lee, Peter and Gordon and The Seekers, yet without the cloying sweetness of their songs.

Give it a try; I think you’ll agree it has a timeless feel to it.

During the summer of 2024, Per Bloch is releasing the singles ‘Oqaatsit angakkuakkat’ (‘Magic Words’) and ‘Vindborin’ (‘Carried by wind’) in Greenlandic and Faroese respectively. The songs were written and recorded with the Greenlandic producer Gustav Lynge Petrussen and the Faroese singer Lea Kampmann (who has appeared in NMC).

Is there anything he can’t do?

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