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Fringe Music: Reviews

Nordic Raga

Nordic Raga

Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's

SWEDISH waltzes and polskas meet Bangalore passion, grace and fire in this superb communion. Saxophonist Pär Moberg and percussionist-singer Dan Svensson wanted to explore the possibilities of adding improvisation to their native traditional music forms, and they decided to approach a tradition that thrives on spontaneity.

Their choice of Carnatic violinist Jyotsna Srikanth as collaborator was inspired.

Srikanth soaks up music from global sources and her ability to negotiate the tricky contours of Scandinavian dance tunes and then add passages of her own helps to create music that is by turns recognisably Swedish and something naturally, invigoratingly new.

Svensson has a light touch on hand drums including, on a piece that posited Macedonia as the halfway point between their relative homes, the darabuka, and his wordless vocals splendidly complement Srikanth's use of the rhythmic mnemonics with which Indian musicians voice percussive patterns.

To call Moberg a saxophonist is to omit half a dozen other instruments and his contribution of colour and rhythm as well as melody adds to the exhilaration of Srikanth's biting glissandi and flammable riffing. Things could get very hot indeed - but also cool in the best way - when they are joined by Swedish fiddle master Mats Edén tonight and tomorrow.

Run ends August 16

Mountain Songs and Grassland Tunes: Tribal Trip

C south

FOLKSONG subjects are universal but if the themes celebrated with notable vitality by the Tribal Trip quartet here are mostly familiar, their instruments might not be.

Intoxicating sounds emanate from a South Chinese cousin of the banjo and an array of masterfully played whistles, flutes and bamboo carvings, given emphasis by just-so percussion and complemented by variously alluring and energetic dance moves.

What's particularly striking, however, is the singing, which at more than one point hit a tone of intensity not unlike our own traveller-tradition bearer Sheila Stewart's and reached a peak of raw expression, tempered with humour, on the concluding psalm of praise for a sheep.

Run ends August 19

Island Voices

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

ANCIENT tradition meets the 21st century in a showcase for Taiwanese culture that mixes vocal brilliance with vibrant colour, pageant, very musical percussion and a few surprises.

Sibling close harmonisers the O-Kai Singers bring traditional song into the pop arena with marvellous accuracy in both pitch and drummer impressions and rich, expressive voices.

Equally expressive but with a lovely guttural tone reminiscent of the Sami folksingers of Lapland are the Amis Liyar vocal and percussion troupe, whose exuberance and musicality produced a joyous spectacle.

Both groups' nods to western culture might not have been entirely persuasive but being serenaded with Amazing Grace by a strolling nose flute ensemble is a Fringe memory your reviewer will cherish.

Run ends August 16

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