Kristian Blak «Ravnating» (Tutl, 1982)
Kristian Blak & Yggdrasil «Ravnating (1982)» (Tutl, 1982)
It’s an absolutely great album of Kristian Blak, which tells us about the life of ravens in their natural habitat, and also about the legends of these birds in mythology, folk beliefs and literature. The record sounds quite minimalistic: we hear only the piano and Sunleif Rasmussen with percussion; this fact, though, gives it a peculiar charm, and doesn’t distract attention from the penetrating tune of each composition.
«Ravnating» is definitely the hit song of the album, that had been replayed by Kristian many times after (I remember the fantastic video with Heðin Ziska Davidsen, in which it sounds like the mix of post-rock and art-rock a la Jethro Tull). The album doesn’t include the songs from this concert, unfortunately, but those people, who seem the Kristian’s «Ravnating» be too minimalistic, can listen to the same compositions (the list of tracks is identical) in live album of 1982. In that album, you’ll exactly hear the flute, the saxophone, the clarinet, the guitar, the self-contained rhythm-section and improvisation. I think, “Ravnating” is the very important part of Blak’s music works. All the 8 compositions, singularly or together, make up musically and conceptually powerful pieces of art, the elements of which one can find also in later works of maestro.
Kristian Blak «Harra Pætur Og Elinborg» (Tutl, 1986)
The complexity of Kristian Blak’s genius simply amazes. Only yesterday, he might play relaxing jazz and hum pseudoethnic tunes, and today he composes ballet music, based on some Faroese ballad performed by orchestra. «Harra Pætur Og Elinborg» is the true symphonic music. Epic and stentorious. It’s rather complicated, but dissimilar to the so called “modern academic music” at the same time. The tunes evolve keeping with the traditions of classic music, and this fact proves, that Kristian isn’t just playing Composer. His music becomes classics in some hundred years. It’s already become, of course, but, as it usually happens, his music has to grow old for some more centuries to get this status.
Kristian Blak love mixing of ethnic music and jazz. For example, the album «Addeq» (1989) is an attempt to give the second life to the traditional Greenlandic music (the so-called East Greenland, where people can’t find the way because of the long winter and dirft-ice). I should admit, this attempt was successful. The album «Addeq», despite its oddity, added mostly by shaman, drummer and dancer Anda Kuitse, sounds rather intelligible both for the genre lovers and for average listener. Besides, almost all compositions, except the fourth (written coauthored with Malang Cissokho, who plays the exotic instrument kora, xylophone and percussion), belong to Kristian Blak and «Nanoq», composed and sung by the guitar player Lelle Kullgren. Evidently, for that reason the main line of “narration” is represented mostly by the piano. «Addeq» is a quite interesting work, and it has both musical and ethnographical value. In popular, almost entertaining manner, Kristian Blak acquaints us (let with the help of music) with the culture of East Greenland. We appreciate it a lot.
Yggdrasil «The Four Towers & Heygar Og Dreygar» (Tutl, 1997)
The CD with the title «The Four Towers & Heygar Og Dreygar» includes two great jazz suites. The first «The Four Towers» begins with the play «Ocean» with the cello solo (or, still, with the double-bass solo?), which sometimes sounds “beyond good and evil” – extremely good (thanks to Anders Jormin), and the following instruments only enrich the impression. We understand, that it’s not separate compositions, but a perfect musical canvas. Its’ very conceptual and rather ambient. Listen to, for instance, almost Pink-Floyd’s (the 1960s’ variant) «Teeth», and you’ll understand everything. The curious thing is that the suite is very different in general. It has elements of light, almost pop, jazz, the elements of pure free-jazz, all kinds of crossovers with rock, blues, and even choir music with floaty, dreamy sounds of saxophone in the series of plays «Amen-Amen». The second jazz play «Heygar Og Dreygar» focuses not on the conceptual atmosphere (no barking dogs or howling wolves detected), but namely on music itself. In this composition, it’s more, so to speak, concentrated, and fits more to the Yggdrasil (this is all because of ethnic melodies), which I already know.
In terms of common for us meaning, it’s the declamation of poetry to musical accompaniment. In this case, we have the poems, written by the most outstanding Faroese writer, William Heinesen. By the way, it’s, perhaps, the only Faroese writer, whose books have been translated into Russian. So, if you’re interested, read his “Black Cauldron” and “Tower at The Edge of The World”. I can’t duly appreciate this album, because I don’t know the language (Heinesen mostly wrote in Faroese). The music is good here, though (Kristian Blak wrote it), but evidently minor, as it is, in fact, the setting of words. PouelKern recites the writer’s stories. He recites in a rather boring manner, and you ask the question “Maybe, one should have asked the writer to read these poems by himself (he died in 1991 and possibly could do that)? It could have raised the value of this record many times.
Reviewer by Anton Kovalsky.
Translated by Irina Boiko.