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
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
(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
I worked at the opera company’s office, slacking around after the disbanding of
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
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
(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;
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
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,
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
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
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…‘
with a huge thank you to Janne Liljekvist for telling his version of Tva fisk’s story.
Editor: Diane Deroubaix
Pictures: Jan Liljekvist