SIGBJØRN APELAND: Glossolalia (Hubro Music)


Posted on Mar 1st 2011 01:29 am

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Sigbjørn Apeland: Glossolalia

Hubro Music 2011
05 Tracks. 31mins28secs

iTunes: DLD

A regular alongside Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Nils Okland, with whom he has recorded a number of albums, harmonium and organ player Sigbjørn Apeland has over the years performed with a number of Norwegian folk artists, but he has also found himself in much less obvious company, contributing notably to Alog’s Amateur (2007) and more recently to Phonophany’s Kreken. Released on new imprint Hubro Music, Glossolalia is his debut solo record.

The fruit of ten years of work, Glossolalia, from the Greek ‘glossa’ (tongue) and ‘lalia’ (to speak), was recorded using only a type of Norwegian harmoniums produced in Bergen. Although common place in churches during the first half of the twentieth century, the popularity of harmoniums has since waned and they are now a rather rare occurrence. Although he later turned to piano and organ, Apeland, who grew up in a small two in the south of Norway, first started playing the harmonium in his formative years, and returned to it as he became accompanying musicians and singers. As he explains in the liner notes, most harmoniums are old and often in an advanced state of disrepair. Furthermore, beside the actual sound of the instruments, they often generate all sorts of peripheral noises which have voluntarily been retained on these recordings.

The resulting five pieces collected here are beautifully introspective and contrasted. Entirely improvised, yet appearing particularly refined and fluid, these tracks are surprisingly evocative and pastoral, as Apeland takes advantage of the somewhat austere and unidimensional sound of his instrument by developing complex melodies and harmonies. Flyt opens with a series of chords which are progressively fleshed out with additional layers of sound until they eventually form the outlines of a loose melody. Later, Mildt originally appears to work in quite a similar way, but the emphasis is much more on the fine nuances that Apeland can draw from the instrument by alternating between registers. Soon, a more defined melodic theme also emerges, revealing a more structured and elegant inlay. The delicate aspect of the piece is partially set off balance by the constant tinkering of feet on pedals or fingers on keys, but it adds an element of grit to the overall sound of the whole record. These are particularly obvious on Mildt, as the notes cascade through the piece, but they also occasionally pepper, more discreetly, the more sombre Bulder Og Lys and Stilleflytande, adding to the solemnity of the moment, while on Lite, which closes, they become so integrated within the graceful motifs played that these environmental noises almost become part of the texture of the harmonium sound itself. A much shorter piece than its predecessors, it also proves to be the most emotionally charged moment of the whole record.

Stepping out from his role as accompanist, Sigbjørn Apeland has with Glossolalia created a valuable document which, like Nils Okland’s releases, is steeped in tradition and folklore. His approach, like that of Okland, is however very contemporary, making his music all the more relevant.


Hubro Music
iTunes: DLD

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