Frigg- Frost on Fiddles (released June 2017)
The latest offering from Finnish instrumental sensation Frigg really is something to behold. A soaring powerhouse of interweaving, melding fiddle lines, this band manage to stay fresh and relevant with each new release – and their latest album, Frost on Fiddles, is no exception. Hot enough to melt even the thickest snow, this collection is packed with a veritable smorgasbord of new and exciting music.
Released in October and toured by the band around the UK in November, this album is the perfect winter warmer – if only because it had this reviewer spilling tea whilst dancing around the kitchen. Frigg never fail to disappoint in offering polkas, reels and even the occasional schottische – even their slower, more reflective airs seem to hold a drive and energy that underlies all their work. Consider the title track of their 2012 album Polka V, a joyous, blasting romp that pushes the listener back in their seat. Their latest album builds on this, with the title track slowly and expertly building from a rhythmic stomp to a full-blown, fiddle-fuelled shindig that takes the listener by storm. And like all good tunes, the back stories are just as engrossing – the opening track written in praise a favourite restaurant of the band’s in Finland. This is followed swiftly by the track Chris Stout’s Compliments to the Bon Accord Ale House – leaving one wondering whether the band pay for meals in the form of musical tributes. Great folk music and product placement – what more could you want?
“Whilst the balance of instruments in large groups can, this reviewer feels, sometimes be a difficult one, Frigg have displayed yet again their understanding of this delicate dance”
The instrumental nature of the group, with four fiddles, guitar, double bass, mandolin and cittern, allow Frigg to transcend both musical and national boundaries to appeal to many camps – as one reviewer said, it spans ‘Nashville to Nordkapp, Salzburg to Stornaway’. Whilst the balance of instruments in large groups can, this reviewer feels, sometimes be a difficult one, Frigg have displayed yet again their understanding of this delicate dance. The slow tune Taivaloski gives extended focus to the mandolin, with the mass of fiddles effortlessly weaving background colour, whilst Vonkaus plays with the deep resonance a double bass can offer and Friggin’ Polska is broken open by the electric reverb of the guitar. It leaves one feeling that no musical corner is felt unexplored by this adventurous septet. Certainly their music has taken them around the world, and if the sheer power they emit on their album is anything to go by they must have rocked their UK venues to their foundations last November.
If this reviewer had one complaint, it would be the intensely wintry theme emitted throughout the album, with the artwork playfully portraying a snow queen being pulled through a wintry landscape by a phalanx of instruments. Although this does hark back to the group’s Scandinavian homeland (especially in the mind of a reviewer who knows no more about Finland than the fact that it isn’t the one that invented Ikea and ABBA), one worries this may give the false impression that the album is merely seasonal. This is, however, almost a cosmetic complaint in what is, overall, a gripping and arresting new release. Despite the title of this album’s haunting last track, Stagnation, it is clear that Frigg are keeping to form and pushing onwards to bigger and better things.