Elysian Fields




The integration deepens. Electric viola da gamba player Jenny Eriksson’s Elysian Fields project gave six players of diverse backgrounds a chance to excavate a unique collective sound, and the artistic success always partly depended on how successfully its disparate elements – classical, folk, jazz and early music – could fuse, rather than being parallel streams. The band here achieves that goal on a repertoire of Scandinavian folk music: pieces that readily accommodate the eccentric instrumentation, and also grooves, textures, harmonies and improvisational language rooted in jazz.

The source material is often exquisite, and the arrangements deft. On Frid pa Jord (Peace on Earth) and the hymn-like Meditatus Susie Bishop’s singing has the innocent purity of a boy soprano’s (other sides of her singing being revealed elsewhere). A cover quote speaks of the viola da gamba’s similarity to the human voice, which is confirmed repeatedly throughout, including on the wistful Lat till Far (Tune to My Father). Pianist Matt McMahon, saxophonist Matt Keegan, bassist Siebe Pogson, drummer Dave Goodman and Bishop’s violin complete the cast on this diaphanous recording.