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Utla's fifth album is simply rapturous. The title gives it all away in a single word: Song. The Norwegian instrumental folk trio has drafted singer Berit Orpheim. to add to the precision and vital energy of the instrumentalists, her charming voice multiplies tenfold the emotional power of the music. This group approaches the repertoire from a creative standpoint. With tenor sax (Karl Seglem, also active in new jazz), Hardanger fiddle (Håkon Høgemo, a prize-winning virtuoso) and percussion (Terje Isungset, possibly the most creative Scandinavian percussionist of his generation), the trio reinvents the tunes, using their timeless melodies as springboards to reach a new form of expression. Isungset, free from the weight of melodic accuracy, takes liberties with rhythm, sometimes playing the role of a jester by adding a textural backdrop of hand-held percussion. In other places he uses bass drum and jew's harp to create atavistic atmospheres that convey a powerful sense of immediacy. On the handful of tunes composed by the trio, Orpheim sings wordless accompaniment, occasionally doubling Seglem's sax on the melodies -- she works wonders in "Ved Ornes," the longest piece at almost eight minutes. These songs, traditional or freshly written, alternate between festive outlooks and human drama like only the most deeply rooted folk music can. Highly recommended.

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