If you didn’t know, today (13th December) is St. Lucia’s Day, the festival of lights celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland in honour of St. Lucia (St. Lucy). One of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia was killed by the Romans in 304 AD because of her religious beliefs.
If you’re interested to learn more, check this out: https://www.britannica.com/topic/St-Lucias-Day
It’s quite a thing in Sweden and the Video of the Week centres on a short dance in homage to the tradition of celebrating Lucia in Sweden, performed by Erika ONeill.
As it happens, Erika O’Neill is an old school friend of Åsa Larsson, of whom I’ve written on several occasions previously but not in Nordic Music Central. Based in central Sweden, Åsa writes and performs as Resmiranda, meaning “a wonderous thing” and a word she discovered in a 15th century hymn when she studied madrigal music.
Here Erika performs the Lucia dance to a section from ‘The Calling’, a 33-minute long concept piece that occupies the second side of Resmiranda’s debut album ‘For the trees’, which was released just over two years ago. It’s a fascinating composition and one that might not even have seen the light of day as she lost all the recordings to a technical glitch but the day was fortunately saved by a tech expert who was able to retrieve most of the material.
When I reviewed it I wrote,
“I’m not quite sure what to say about it. It’s extraordinary. At 33 minutes it’s more than twice as long as the other tracks put together.
The opening section appears to be a walk through the Amazonian rain forest, to heavy, almost prog-like synths. Then the kulning (see explanation later) starts and against this background it is truly ethereal. After that, cue ambient electronica, always with those lurking forest sounds, which later, and pertinently, include the sound of flames. Then the flute returns, hauntingly, followed by a short solo on a xylophone before a synth section that could be out of a sci-fi film.
The second half is dominated by the flute, mixed with animal noises and ominous thunder of the sort that introduces the original ‘Set you free’ by N-Trance but this is no dance track. The music ends completely for the last three minutes, which plays out as the animal noises fight for pre-eminence over the thunder that is closing in.
The best way I can summarise this track is to say that if someone invited me to listen to it and told me it was a collaborative piece between say Philip Glass and Anthony Gonzalez (M83) rather than by a complete unknown from a small town in Sweden I would happily have believed them.”
Asa’s an interesting character. A committed environmentalist, feminist and a gentle soul who is also a kick boxer I think, she is one of a handful of Swedes who retain the ability to engage in ‘kulning’ – the art of calling livestock (cows, goats, etc.) from pastures where they have been grazing during the day. There’s a video of her doing it with a couple of swans which went viral, with 1.6 million views and counting. She also took part in a Swedish TV talent show with a singing dog!
And she’s one of few people who can put poetry to music, a difficult skill.
Here is the video, followed by a link to the album track of ‘The Calling’ on Spotify.
Find her on: