Nils Økland: Bris

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Nils Økland
LABELS: Rune Grammofon
WORKS: Gralys, Hastabo, Myrkjeblatt, Slor, Blonda Bla, Bris, Notten, Seil, Flyt, Aviminast, Gjennom, Bonn
PERFORMER: Nils Økland, Sigbjorn Apeland, Mats Eilersen, Per Oddvar Johansen, Hakon Stene


This starkly beautiful instrumental album by Norwegian fiddler Nils Økland is a real grower. Though he plays violin and viola, Økland’s main instrument is the rather rustic-looking Hardanger fiddle, named after an area in southwest Norway. Its distinctive gossamery tone results from the fact that in addition to the usual four bowed strings, it has four or five more ‘sympathetic’ strings, which produce a ringing sound as the others are played.


The instrument has its own fiercely guarded traditional repertoire, which informs Økland’s music, but he also moves in classical, contemporary and improvised circles, and this album (literally ‘Breeze’) is all original compositions, many based on material he wrote for a play called Melankolia. It’s austere, evocative and very contemplative music, with minimal accompaniment on harmonium, double bass and atmospherically rumbling percussion that slowly builds to a climax near the close. Music for watching snowflakes fall. Jon Lusk