Today I set up series of publications, nearly related to the composer, musician and simply the greatest person Kristian Blak. So, it’ll be better, if I say a few words about him first.
It’s very difficult to imagine Faroese culture without Blak nowadays. When he came to the Faroe Islands in 1974 (our main character comes from the Danish city Fredericia) to settle, write and play, Kristian, actually, became the central figure in shaping of the image of modern Faroese music. He is known not only as an artist (solo projects, Yggdrasil, Spælimenninir), but also, if we proceed with art-allusions, as an art dealer, that managed to amass under his exclusive and unique on the Faroes record label “Tutl” a rather impressive collection.
The “zest” of this collection are, definitely, his own releases: ethnic music, jazz, academic and experimental music of all sorts. Not body music (thus, why not dance?), but music to someome’s ears. Intelligent, but not abstruse, live and, what is the most important, constantly varying. All music by Blak seems to be of natural origin, it’s not written with the help of notes, and played not on musical instruments, but on wind, water and stones. And, besides, I don’t exaggerate. Sea caves have been for the musician both a concert venue and studio for a long time. Listen to the album «Stone & Water» and you’ll realize everything. But we’ll back to this later.
Let’s talk now about two 2014 records directly related to Blak: the album of the band Yggdrasil «Dímun» and, at first view (yet, at the second as well), extremely melancholic Amaldus» with 12 piano opuses by Kristian Blak, performed by Danish pianist Birgitte Schnakenburg, which was unable to resist the Faroes and moved there in 2005.
«Dímun», actually, takes on a good tradition of the previous works of the fusion band. It’s the best sample of the genre, that smoothly absorbed academic and ethnic music. Due to this musical fertilizer “The tree of life” grows well. With a bit of avant-garde music in it, jazz (namely the jazz runs the show in Yggdrasil), performed by Kristian Blak (piano), the violinist Angelika Nielsen, the double bass player and the father’s son Mikael Blak and the drummer Per I. Højgaard Petersen sinks into the heart like lightning. Eight compositions in the album, two composers (Angelika and Kristian), passing the baton to each other, made absolutely natural and very beautiful and melodious album. First, the «Brimgjáir» catches your attention, but then, when you listen attentively, you realize, that there are no accidental sounds in «Dímun». Yggdrasil forges ahead, and their new record is yet more proof of it. The appearance in the forestage of Nielsen as the composer and amplification of violin tone colours on the musical canvas of «Dímun» made me glad. We should only wait for what Kristian Blak and his friends prepared for us for the future.
As for «Amaldus», it’s a self-aware music. Unlike the open-hearted «Dímun», very intimate, but, surely, able to awake everybody’s heart, tracks are prepared fot the listeners. Despite its intimacy (only piano and silence), Blak’s music fills all the space around. The surprising is also how deeply Birgitte has got into the spirit of these 12 musical sketches. It’s interesting to note that “Amaldus” is more attractive with its design. Besides the texts by William Heinesen, which, obviously, inspired Blak while writing the music, the drawings by Zacharias Heinesen are available in the booklet. Being monochromic and very attractive and beautiful, they’re very consonant with every composition in «Amaldus».
Reviewer by Anton Kovalsky.
Translated by Irina Boiko.