Esk, an ensemble featuring Miriam Andersén and Poul Høxbro, focuses on medieval and traditional Scandinavian music. Andersén sings, and the duo performs on harp, hornpipe, bone flutes, cow horns, and cowbells -- all reconstructions of instruments found in archeological digs of Viking sites, or contemporary folk instruments. The music bears a superficial resemblance to that of western and southern Europe from the same era, but the instruments lend it a distinctive timbral edge that probably wouldn't have been found further south. The melodies are less bound by modal conventions and some have eccentrically wide ranges. The instrumental dances and strophic songs with texts from the Eddas and Norse bards convincingly evoke what one might imagine as the aural world of the Vikings -- wild, unpredictable, and sometimes brutal. The performances are energetic and passionate, and Andersén's strong voice is just right for the earthy songs.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins