Nils Økland

First ECM solo album from the Norwegian violinist who has gained many friends for his work with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. Økland’s solo music is strongly inspired by the rich Norwegian fiddle tradition and its freedom, variation and individuality, yet what he plays is not purely ‘folk music’ rather a reinvention of folk forms, with free improvisation and contemporary composition also powerful influences. The ‘personality’ of the instruments themselves is also an inspiration: on “Monograph” Økland makes the most of the ‘drone’ qualities of the viola d’amore and the Hardanger fiddle (he plays both old and modern models) as well as an old violin from 1700, in a recital of subtle and melodic invention.

Featured Artists Recorded

July 2007, Olavskirken-Avaldsnes, Oslo

Original Release Date


  • 1Mønster
    (Nils Økland)
  • 2Pas de deux
    (Nils Økland)
  • 3Kvelartak
    (Nils Økland)
  • 4Horisont
    (Nils Økland)
  • 5Mono
    (Nils Økland)
  • 6Rite
    (Nils Økland)
  • 7Ø
    (Nils Økland)
  • 8Snor
    (Nils Økland)
  • 9Slag
    (Nils Økland)
  • 10Seg
    (Nils Økland)
  • 11Dialog
    (Nils Økland)
  • 12Skimte
    (Nils Økland)
  • 13Nattsvermer
    (Nils Økland)
Monograph faithfully captures the qualities that set Økland apart from those who can merely play. There’s unusual clarity in the shaping of his music, in its steady unfolding and its unpredictable polyphony. … With Økland you get the sense that the instrument is just an outlet for a vision. This is folk music regenerated without nostalgia, music on the global stage.
Julian Cowley, The Wire
A musician who has played in just about every style from punk rock to chamber music, Økland draws here on the traditional music of his homeland adding just a hint of the baroque for good measure. These are tunes that tell of a time when the music of the court and that of the tavern were as one. Dolorous and at times overwhelmingly sad, it speaks of the quiet everyday bravery of live and sustenance wrest from the sea and hewn from the land. It is music of such grace and beauty and expresses a profound sense of a people and of a landscape and a commitment to a heritage that is truly inspiring. What a very fine record, indeed.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
Der studierte Violinist Økland hat sich intensiv mit der Hardanger Fiedel beschäftigt. Was er jedoch mit diesem Instrument, einer Geige von „ungefähr 1700“, einem aus der Barockzeit und der mit Resonanzsaiten ausgestatteten Viola d’Amore zu Gehör bringt, ist eine Transformation der alten Stile, die mit der bisweilen eintönigen Hardanger-Tanzmusik nichts mehr zu tun hat. Die in der Olavskirche entstandenen Aufnahmen schöpfen aus dem Fundus traditioneller Harmonien und Ornamentik … und setzen auf „Re-Kreation“ statt auf stoische Traditionspflege.
Peter Bickel, Nordis
Wenn man Øklands ruhigen, poetischen Melodien lauscht, meint man, es wären zwei oder gar drei Geigen zu hören, so virtuos beherrscht er das mehrstimmige Spiel. Seine Musik braucht die Weite des Raums, damit die Klangschönheit des norwegischen Volksmusikinstruments voll zur Entfaltung kommt. … Immer kultiviert und hochsensibel, leuchtet Økland die Möglichkeiten der Hardanger-Fiedel aus, wobei seine Musik in der traditionellen Klangwelt wurzelt, ohne vor neutönerischen Erkundungen zurückzuschrecken.
Christoph Wagner, Jazzthetik
The first ECM album to appear under Nils Økland’s name, “Monograph” follows the Norwegian violinist’s discs for the label with Christian Wallumrød - “Sofienberg Variations” (recorded 2001) and “A Year From Easter” (2003). Inside Wallumrød’s ensembles, Økland has impressed as a master of texture, subtly moving between Hardanger fiddle, violin and viola d’amore. On “Monograph” a powerful and moving solo performance, Økland plays his own music, and underlines his connection to the rich Norwegian folk tradition.

His tunes feel like pieces born of the soil, earthy, rooted. He has been inspired by “the freedom, variation and individuality” of his homeland’s folk music and cites the influence of fiddle players - including Knut Hamre, Torleiv Bjørgum, Hilmar Alexandresen, Hans W. Brimi and Sigbjørn B. Osa - yet also draws influence from the work of modern Norwegian composers including Arvid Gangsø and Ole Henrik Moe. Ultimately, Økland’s music occupies a space of its own, between folk music, free improvisation and contemporary composition.