NID - Press Reviews

Soon, there will be more press reviews translated into english. Here are three to read while You wait:

There is something about trios. 

The spare nature of the lineup and the direct connection between the ear and the individual musicians make them attractive to me. These same qualities also make the musicians more attuned to each other, locked in to nuances that might be missed in a larger ensemble, yet offering sonic complexities that might elude the duet or solo performance.

This particular instrumental trio from Sweden offers an unusual sonic structure. Mia Gustafsson is the violinist, Hanna Wiskari plays saxophones and Petter Berndalen whacks, strums and caresses kit and frame drums and all sorts of small percussion. The violin and saxophone often play in tight unison or harmony, breaking off to counter and challenge one another in careful, open improvisations. These two young women clearly have learned their lessons from some of the best, and you can hear phrasing that indicates how much they revere masters of the previous two decades, like Lena Willemark, Mikael Marin, (who produced this recording), Sven Ahlbäck, Jonas Knutsson, Sten Källman and Ellika Frissell. Berndalen's playing owes much to the great Nordic drummer Terje Isungset in his use of brief, spacious patterns, irregular rhythms that fit tightly between the beat and unusual approaches to the instruments.

They have studied the best of the best. But they are ultimately their own masters. They show an astute understanding of regional folk music, with a particular focus on Värmland and Bohuslän, but they are not chained to the past and are willful in their reinterpretation of the old tunes. They freely mix in the jazz and classical idioms they all have training in, while never remaining true to the folk music, never becoming a fusion. Each tune offers a surprise, be it an unexpected sense of drama or a sudden flight of whimsy. This is all brilliantly expressed in their austere reading of Norwegian fiddler Hans Brimi's "Gammelhussin," where the fiddle and percussion don't so much take alternate lines of the tune as hurl them at one another, each challenging the other to take chances. They follow this with a warm romantic interpretation of the Brimi march "Nävårsetermarsjen" that starts as a slow fiddle solo and then evolves bit by bit into a raucous turn on the American fiddle tune "Blackberry Blossom," punctuated by a brief animated line from "Amazing Grace." [ni:d] may have complicated their professional lives with their unusual name, (the phonetic of the English word 'need' as well as a reference to a Swedish song style), one that is impossible to file alphabetically. But perhaps that is the point; it is a name to match their equally undefined approach to folk music. As Wiskari explained to me, "Mostly it's about having a need for something - for example, playing music!"

- CF, Rootsworld

This is wonderfully intelligent music.
Just fiddle, soprano sax and percussion, from Mia Gustafsson, Hanna Wiskari and Gjallarhorn’s Petter Berndalen. As has become increasingly apparent in today’s Swedish roots music, the silky roundness of the soprano sax and the friction of the fiddle complement one another excellently, and Gustafsson and Wiskari are masters of those instruments, tracking in unison, harmony or diverging melodic lines with quick response and tremendous empathy.

One might expect the percussion to simply lay down the groove over which the other two sit, but that isn’t what Berndalen does. Unusually among percussionists he knows traditional music as well as any melody instrument player and has, as he puts it, “a passion for musical details”; using a very individual, beautifully integrated and tuned percussion kit he picks out and intensifies the twists and turns of the melody, and is as able to contribute as meaningfully to a tune with free rhythm as to one with a steady pulse. Anyway, few of these Swedish and Norwegian tunes and originals have any kind of clock rhythm; they pull and swing and lurch splendidly, and the three players treat them as a musical conversation, rather as does one of their mentors, Ellika Frisell, in her duets with Solo Cissokho. But whereas Ellika and Solo is a cross-cultural meeting, these three are conversing in the same traditional-musical language.

It’s a custom in Swedish and Norwegian folk music to credit one’s influences, and these three continue that un-egotistical tradition, citing fiddlers Frisell, Sven Ahlbäck, Mats Berglund, Hans W. Brimi and the album’s producer Mikael Marin, saxists Jonas Knutsson and Sten Källman and percussionists Terje Isungset and André Ferrari. All of those, themselves highly recommended for your further investigation, should be proud to have had a hand in Ni:d’s extraordinarily articulate music.

Find them, and hear tracks, at and
© 2007 Andrew Cronshaw, fRoots 289, 2007

NID is one of the most innovative and important groups within swedish traditional music of today.
NID consists of three musicians which are all top level soloists graduated from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Together they have made unique contributions to the development of Swedish traditional folk music by exploring new ways of ensemble playing, bringing out the more subtle aspects of traditional playing style in an entirely new context. Their work can be regarded culturally significant comparable with top level performers within e.g. modern art music, jazz or classical music.
Sven Ahlbäck (PhD, Associate Professor in folk music, Royal College of Music, Stockholm, Sweden)

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