Tag Archives: Swedish folk

Två Fisk Och En Fläsk – Discography (1998-2016)

A CeltCast Classic



This is not going to be a true review, but it is more going to be a story. The story of a young group of Swedish musicians, from their beginnings as starting a medieval folk band to the last fusion-folk/ world music jam session they recorded. A story that spans over 10 years.
For me, the story started halfway through 2020, with our Marielle sharing the link of an acoustic album by the Viking metal band Månegarm. Although Urminnes Hävd (The Forest Sessions) is a nice acoustic CD, it is still too much a rock album to fit our folk format. But one other thing caught my interest, a female guest vocalist by the name of Umer Mossige-Norheim, then lead singer of a band called Två Fisk Och En Fläsk. Her voice impressed me from the first moments I heard it and the band name sounded intriguing, very intriguing actually. So a quick hop to Bandcamp for a listen was the next step. It didn’t take long before I started sending links to Ilona, and we both knew right there and then we found something special. Something we wanted to share with you all.
And thus started the search. Cause the only things to be found on Bandcamp, (or anywhere else on social media for that matter), were four albums, some videos, and the names of the band members. That was it. Oh and a couple of photos found on the site of a certain Jayne Insane (second from left). Well, that Jayne Insane turned out to be the Swedish composer and musician Jan Liljekvist; known amongst others as the former violinist of Månegarm AND Två Fisk Och En Fläsk. So I sent him an email hoping he would be willing to tell me more about the history of the band. Luckily Jan was quick to respond.
-‘ You asked about Två Fisk och En Fläsk?! I have been deep down in my memories and tried to recall the days of Två Fisk. I will try to tell our story. Although I am not a man of the written word, I have put together a brief history of the group. My history, that is.‘ And so the story started.
-‘Två Fisk & En Fläsk were active ca 1993-2003, though we had a brief reunion in May 2019. We went through a couple of member changes, but the core of the band was mostly Umer, Marcas and myself, and later on Olof and Stebbe.

MARK I: HOW IT ALL STARTED:

-‘When I first met Marcas Oreglia he was singing in the choir in an opera, Le Villi by Puccini. I worked at the opera company’s office, slacking around after the disbanding of The Shoutless, a garage rock group I played with for more than 10 years. With that band, we made a couple of vinyl singles and albums that can still be found on Bandcamp and toured Sweden and Europe. I was not exactly looking for a new musical vehicle, but when Marcas suggested we should jam together, I accepted. So we started to play together in the fall of 1993, and he soon brought in a friend of his: Umer Mossige-Norheim, a vocalist with a taste for baroque opera. First, it was Marcas on violin and me on guitar, but I soon switched to violin, with a possibility for us both to change to guitar occasionally. Umer of course sang lead, with us on harmonies. We even gave her a drum to bang on. Shortly afterward, I brought in my friend Anna Westman on flutes, violin, and occasional vocals. This version of the band existed for about 6-7 months.

MARK II: THE FIRST CHANGES

-‘When Anna left the group in 1994, we met Anders Peev who doubled on keyed fiddle and guitar. This is also when Jie Zelf on percussion came into the group. It was during this period we created our musical language. Umer was strongly influenced by the Swedish group Folk & Rackare (check them out) and got us on the way to play Swedish Medieval Ballads. At this time, we didn´t compose our own material, but we arranged the ballads in our own way. We took parts from different songs we found in books in the musical library, changed the keys, added chords, and took lyrics from still other songs to put them together. Umer and I had become a couple, and we lived really close to Anders. So, we were constantly working on the music, playing and rehearsing in the basement of Umer’s place.
We used to play at home parties and student clubs. We also got in contact with the role-playing community and played a lot in the woods where they arranged medieval re-enactments over the weekends. And of course, in the medieval week in Visby, Gotland. After a week in Visby, Jie left the group, and in came Robert Lundin, also known as Gaahnfaust, drummer of the Swedish black metal band Dark Funeral.


MARK III: THE DEBUT ALBUM

-‘When Anders went on to more folkish music, we teamed up with Olof Öberg (guitar) and Stebbe Grapenmark (percussion). They had played together in obscure punk groups, and I think they came in through an ad we put up in a music store. This turned out to be the most fruitful and long-lasting version of the band. Olof’s aggressive but delicate handling of the 12-string guitar, together with Stebbes heavy pounding on the cow drum, was perfect for our mix of medieval folkish music with an attitude. Jie soon rejoined on djembe and percussion, and we recorded our debut CD in Sunlight Studio, with Tomas Skogsberg, the legendary metal producer.
As a sidenote: It was during these sessions we met with Månegarm, who were recording their second demo in the same studio. Umer did some backing vocals and I laid down some fiddle tracks. After that, there was no turning back. I became a member of Månegarm and played with them for 15 years. We played a lot in Europe and even in Russia, Canada, and the USA. Often together with folk-oriented metal bands like Skyforger (Latvia) and Eluveitie (Switzerland). Umer sang on some of the records but never did any gigs.


Well, Jan described Två Fisk Och En Fläsk’s sound on the debut album very well actually. The first song Introitus is still a breakable precious balladesque solo by Umber, showcasing the ability of her voice; but on the second song Douce Dame, the brakes already go out. I have heard this classic being performed by many medieval folk bands and this one stands out as the most energetic of them all. Although mostly staying true to the medieval folk genre, it just sounds fresh and ‘young’. Nicely up-tempo, fresh-sounding guitar chords, a strong medieval, but at the same time modern-sounding percussion and some really cool violin improvisation by Marcas and Jan.It all sounds young, fresh, and modern.
The band keeps that feel up with energetic versions of classic medieval songs like Im Meyem Secundum, Näcken (which contains a strong build-up to a cool percussion/violin sound), the fast, medieval punk-song Mit Ganzem Willen (a furious but melodic version), Saltarello (love the Flairck-kind of recorder solo in it), or Liten Pojk (love these almost hard rock-type guitar breaks in there), making the debut album Två Fisk Och En Fläsk a lovely fresh and modern record to listen to, even after all those years. Maybe too modern for the true medieval purists, but certainly the perfect end to a long and sunny young re-enactment/LARP day!

MARK IV: THE SECOND ALBUM JUNGFRUBUREN

Jan continues:’‘The second CD, Jungfruburen, saw the birth of our first self-penned material in the same style. Now Jie had left again and we brought in Sebastian Åberg, a skilled percussionist who had spent several years in India, studying the tablas. We also had Gustaf Esters on darbouka and percussion. For a while, we had 3 drummers on stage! Unfortunately, Olof decided to leave the band shortly before the release of Jungfruburen. During a period we tried to replace him, first with guitarist/producer Viktor Buck and then with jazz guitarist Mikke Rönnkvist. It was during a gig with Mikke that Olof understood that he had to return to the band, so for a while, we were back with the “classic” line up.

Jungfruburen was a huge step from the band’s debut album. A step that may have taken some by surprise at the time. The basis is still Swedish style folk, but so many elements were added to the original sound that it turned into medieval fusion folk. A good example would be the intro of Saltarello IV; It has enough references of ’80’s pop-rock bands hidden in there for it to be used as a question in a pub quiz; Survivor‘s Eye of the tiger being just one of them.
The combination of old Swedish folk music, experimental fusion elements, and world music provided some true gems. Jungfrun I Buren has a violin riff going through it to die for. And Marcas’s ‘improvised’ freestyle violin sound takes center stage on Lussi Lilla. Come to think of it, Lussi Lilla is actually a nice blueprint for Två Fisk Och En Fläsk’s sound on Jungfruburen. It contains strong percussion/violin breaks, cool solos -not only from Jan Liljekvist but the whole band- and all of that is glued together by Umer’s beautiful, strong soprano. Femto Ganger is another example of that style. It starts as a beautiful Renaissance folk song before the band drops it in a world music sauce, only to follow it by an almost operettic male choir. Now to say that Två Fisk Och En Fläsk were ahead of their time in 2000 when they recorded Jungfruburen is a bit risky, but even by today’s standards, their fusion folk is ‘out’ there. fans of ZiRP should definitely check this out, although I’m sure one or two improvisations might be a bit too much for some. But that is part of Jungfruburen’s charm. It showcases a young band of talented musical artists (with all kinds of different musical backgrounds) expressing themselves, looking for the very edges of their sound and sometimes going over it, just because they can. This is where music turns into a piece of art. Fortune Plango and Linden Bar Lov are beautiful examples of it. As I said not for all, but if you like the music of ZiRP, Jyoti Verhoeff‘s Touches album, and can handle some touches of experimental music, this record is a treat. And Linden Bar Lov a true gem.

MARK IV: FLESH WORKSHOP & FLESH JAM

– ‘sadly, after almost 10 years of playing together, Marcas gave up on the band. Leaving Stockholm, and eventually leaving music. That was kind of the end of Två Fisk as a working group. For a while, we didn´t meet or have any contact at all. Umer and I had broken up, and I had a lot to do with Månegarm.
My memory fails me, but I think it was during the recordings of Urminnes hävd -the acoustic album of Månegarm, on which Stebbe and Gustaf play- that Stebbe, Olof, and I started to meet and play again, just jamming without any purpose. But soon it started to sound like songs and arrangements. Finally, we contacted Umer and Sebastian and started to work on the recordings of Flesh Workshop And Flesh Jam, which is exactly what the title says, two albums with us jamming and fooling around in the studio.
But the world had turned. During our most active years, we had lived real close and worked hard with the music, but after Flesh Workshop we couldn’t find the real interest to continue. No gigs and a lack of interest from bookers also played a part. The re-enactors were now grown-ups with children and steady jobs, so we disbanded. Flesh Workshop never met the audience in a physical way, but Bandcamp gave us the opportunity to at least make a digital release.


compared to Jungfruburen, the third album Flesh Workshop sounds much more mellow. The fusion jazz improvisations are still there but they don’t have those ‘sharp edges’ anymore. They are not pushing us, listeners, to the edge of our taste. No, they now form a perfect blend with the Swedish folk the band play. And with that Grebsma, Harba II, Bas-Umers Polka, Sven Svanevit (with sparks of Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles) cleverly woven in there), Ella & Ola, Mando, or the beautiful ballad Leja Tjänstepiga are all world-music-meets-folk treats. The songs sound modern, catchy, and fun. With Jungfruburen the band was at the peak of their artistic experimental phase. On Flesh Workshop they managed to mold that eagerness to experiment into easier consumable music. Ending somewhere between the sound of ZiRP’s latest album Circle Divine and Martin Seeberg’s old fusion-folk band Instinkt.
Flesh Jam is just what it says on the tin. The bandmembers jammin’ together in the studio. Fooling with the different styles of music seperately, that normally would make up the total Två Fisk Och En Fläsk sound. Not playable within the CeltCast format, for me as a music lover and reviewer Flesh Jam is really interesting, as it helps me understand where Två Fisk Och En Fläsk’s music came from. And for all the fans of world music? Well, you have a really nice album to listen to.

EPILOGUE: AFTER TVA FISK OCH EN FLÄSK

-‘So what happened afterward? Umer went into computer programming for a while. She is now a successful author of teenage books. I lost contact with Marcas, but I heard he lives in a small village, close to the fishing and hunting he always loved. Olof is a hi-tech engineer and Stebbe is a teacher. Jie runs a small shop for comics and records. And for myself? I compose for, and play with the international group NB8 ART, a group mainly based in Lithuania that plays art-pop with an ambient feel. And since 2016 I am back on guitar, with the jazz-fusion/blues group Black Baker. No gigs right now due to the pandemonia, but we are constantly working on new material. Composing and recording.
During the years with Månegarm, I was also heavily involved in experimental electro-acoustic music as a chairman and producer for Fylkingen in Stockholm, and as a teacher at Elektronmusikstudion EMS. Stebbe and I did a couple of gigs in the project Jay Nein Sane & the Noisebreakers. But that those projects are far, far away from the music you guys play on CeltCast, so that is a totally different story…


– Cliff

with a huge thank you to Janne Liljekvist for telling his version of Tva fisk’s story.

Editor: Diane Deroubaix
Pictures: Jan Liljekvist

Vilsevind – Dag O Natt (2019) Review



At CeltCast we don’t often get post from South America. And if that envelope then also includes a Swedish folk CD, you can imagine the music team got a lot more than just interested. We were actually intrigued. The CD we got is called Dag O Natt, and the duo who sent it to us has the typical Argentine name of Vilsevind. A quick look at their Facebook page tells us a bit more:
-‘Vilsevind -Swedish for “wandering wind- is a Swedish-Argentine duo made up of spouses Sergio and Johanna Ribnikov Gunnarsson. As sound travels farther on water, their musical style can be described as North Sea music, a crossover between Nordic Folk and Celtic Music. Their main source of inspiration is Nordic history and folk life, superstitions and folklore and nature, especially that of the island of Öland, Johanna’s birthplace.’
And so I ended up with a North Sea folk album all the way from South America on my review desk. And I can already reveal, I am not complaining.
So Vilsevind is Swedish-born Johanna Ribnikov Gunnarsson on vocals and concertina, and Argentine-born Sergio Ribnikov Gunnarsson on vocals, Irish bouzouki, guitar, mandolin, hurdy gurdy, jaw harp and offerdalspipa (A Swedish flute based on a flute from the museum of the Offerdal Heritage Centre. It was bequeathed to the Heritage Centre in the 1960s by a man from Fiskviken, a village in the borough of Krokom.) Already an impressive list of instruments.
But the couple didn’t record Dag O Natt as a pure duo, not at all, it was a huge project with as much as twelve guest musicians involved, playing percussion, guitars, a Galician bagpipe, a Cretan Lyra, Strings and Irish whistles.
Vilsevind themselves already said that they play North Sea music, and from the first notes of Ingång: Dag you can hear this is more than just Swedish folk. This first song actually sounds more like film music with added sound effects. It sounds like a small vessel on the North Sea is washed ashore by the tides of time. In it are two musicians who wake up to tell their tale. I love the cello setting the tone in this song. Ingång: Dag is followed by the upbeat song Fuego. Fuego is cool mix of folk influences. Think of a mix of the cabaresque sound of Twigs and Twine, the Swedish folk of Asynje and a touch of medieval bagpipe.



The third song, Ödeblues, reminds me even more of Twigs & Twine. Not only in the way the music is arranged -a cabaresque, upbeat ballad that ends up as an acoustic power-ballad- but also in the vocals. Johanna has a pleasant voice that reminds me very much of Lian’s, one of Twigs & Twine’s female vocalists. Sergio has a nice warm voice that complements Johanna’s voice perfectly. As a singing duo their voices work very well together. During Ödeblues the different percussion and Irish bouzouki players join in. Where in Dag you could still say you are listening to a duo, during Fuego and especially Ödeblues it is clear that Vilsevind went for a full band sound. All in all Ingång: Dag, Fuego, and Ödeblues are a very pleasant start to this CD, that up to now is indeed more general Celtic sounding than pure Swedish.





Flat White/Elfshot is an instrumental song that starts as an instrumental Swedish folk ballad with Flat White, with a high pitched string- and tin whistle melody in it, that gives it an ever so slight Japanese/Chinese feel (to my ears at least.) I don’t think it is deliberate, but once I heard it I couldn’t get the comparison out of your mind anymore. What IS intended, is that the song is a lovely Celtic instrumental ballad that suddenly jumps to an Irish up-tempo dance song. And jump is the right word here. It really jumps from a ballad into a cheerful upbeat dance song, including an extremely cool jaw harp rhythm, bound to put a huge smile on your face (As will the story behind this song. Read it, you will laugh your a** off) A lovely musical surprise and this will not be the last surprising twist on Dag O Natt.

Thorsten Fiskare is a nice ballad based on a work by the Ölandic poet and playwright Erik Johan Stagnelius . Most of the songs, written by Sergio, Johanna or both of them together are in Swedish. The only two exceptions are Oración and Kalabalik which are sung in Spanish, the latter by Sergio. As far as I can tell from Google Translate (which had a looooot of trouble trying to translate the Swedish poetic lyrics into proper Dutch) all the songs are island folk poems, telling about universal themes as love, longing, loss, myth, and… wait for it… Coffee! For those who master Spanish, they can read all about the background of the songs on Vilsevind’s webpage. For those non-Spanish speaking readers, try translating the synopsis in Google Translate, that works much better. (Or you can use the link the band provided. shorturl.at/lmMO5)
Coming back to Thorsten Fiskare, it is definitely one of my favourite songs on Dag O Natt. A lovely ballad to start with, The voices of Johanna and Sergio blend beautifully with the Irish bouzouki, and it would not be a Vilsevind song if the music didn’t change halfway through. In this case, you get the feeling Trolska Polska entered the studio to join in for a bit. Totally fitting for the story Vilsevind are telling in Thorsten Fiskare.

Majsol is the loveliest of the ballads on Dag O Natt. A beautiful duet between Irish bouzouki and voice. There are moments at the start where I mistake Sergio’s bouzouki for a harp. Just stunning. The violin and concertina gliding into the sound at the end or the staccato string section after that are just the icing on an already beautiful cake. I have to compliment Manuel Villar Lifac on his string arrangements throughout the album, and also Marcelo Ismael Rodriguez who recorded, mixed and mastered Dag o Natt to an outstanding quality. I love all the bits and pieces added to the music to make it interesting. Well done!

By now we are nearing the end of the album. Virvelsinn is the song the duo wrote to give the name Vilsevind and everything it stands for its own voice. And indeed it represents the band perfectly. Virvelsinn is a celebration of poetic, European folk music. It feels like Johanna has taken the memories of her musical heritage and, together with the love of her life, and the new friends she gained, she plays it in a new land, both to cherish those memories and to give the music as a gift to the people in a new land she clearly loves too.

Kalabalik is one of the two songs in Spanish and the only one with Sergio on lead vocals, but don’t expect it to sound Argentinian at all. It’s a wonderful blend of Irish folk and Swedish traditional music in the Spanish tongue, admittedly with a bit of accordion that takes me to the lovely Celtic folk made in Brittany, as Wouter & de Draak would play it. And in that way Vilsevind keeps mixing the best bits of the western European folk music together. And Vilsevind has yet more tricks up their sleeve, how about an Indian sitar blended into Swedish folk for instance? In Vilsevinds musical world, not a problem. Another example is the lovely folk-pop flute melody in Tusentals Färdas, a song that could easily have been on Gwendolyn Snowdon’s latest solo album too.
And that sums up Vilsevinds music. Its positive happy music, made with a big wink and a huge smile. Dag o Natt is indeed what Sergio and Johanna claim it is on their website: “A celebration of Swedish and Celtic folk music combined.” A celebration that I hope to hear a lot more of in the future. The world can use more musical smiles like this. A lot more, actually!

– Cliff

Editor: Sara Weeda,
Sleeve art: Sandra Núnez Castro,
Pictures: Vilsevind






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