Various Artists

The Wizard Women of the North

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In the Land of the Midnight Sun, when a woman needs to gather a scattered herd, she resorts to singing in the distinctive and far-reaching vocal style known as "kulning." It is that beckoning that starts Wizard Women of the North, a collection of leading Nordic women. Sylvan spirits and fjord-filling fog populate this ancient land in the mind. The distinctively talented and exotically styled female vocalists and instrumentalists on this album make that magical realm a reality. As for instruments, many of these musicians choose the violin, as do Hege Rimestad, Annbjorg Lien, Mari Eggen and Helene Hoye, and Susanne Lundeng. Their attraction to the bottom strings and droning double-stops is an exquisite contrast to the siren cries and cheerful, folk chorales that populate this album. Wizard Women of the North is an enchanting and unforgettable travelogue to this remote land of mystery. It is also fascinating to meet such familiar sounds as the Celtic musings of Rimestad's "Krishnas Kusine (Krishna's Cousin)." This potpourri is also an introduction to the rich and varied universe of Scandinavian recordings. Each track comes off another album, and the notes provide source information. The notes also include the fairy tale of the Wizard Woman of the North and the despair induced by long, hard winters. This goes a long way to putting into context a vibrant and varied assembly of folk music that so often veers to the sad and melancholy.

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