No one can accuse Annbjørg Lien of sticking in a rut. Her studio albums have taken her through traditional Norwegian music and far beyond, and this live disc (A. Liens Alive, get it?) blows them all out of the water. With some traditional material, a good dose of prog rock, and a fleeting version of Grieg's "Morning Mood," it covers plenty of ground. Some tracks have appeared on her prior records, but they're drastically rearranged here: "Loki," for example, is now pretty much undiluted prog rock. But the centerpiece has to be the epic "Origins," an aural journey through Nordic music lasting over 14 minutes that includes the sounds of Norway, Sweden, and even Finnish joiking. It's daring -- pushing the audience -- but it works, a constant stream of movement that carries the crowd along in a tour de force. While Lien sticks mostly to her trademark Hardanger fiddle, the Norwegian national instrument, she also proves very handy on the Swedish keyed fiddle. While this is her album, the band plays a very important part throughout (with the exception of the solo closer), with keyboardist Bjorn Ole Rasch and guitarist Roger Tallroth both strongly in evidence. Aliens Alive feels like the culmination of Lien's career to date, the end of one era -- and if it is, she's leaving it in fine style, ready for the next step.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson