Wolf Rune

Sinikka Langeland

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Wolf Rune, a solo album, casts a new light on the highly personal idiom of Sinikka Langeland, kantele player and folk singer from Finnskogen, Norway’s “Finnish forest”.  Sinikka integrates her own songs among folk hymns, shamanistic rune songs and traditional dance pieces, draws texts from multiple poetic sources, and expands the expressive range of her instruments. Few artists embody the spirit of place as comprehensively as Langeland, and her music ruminates upon the wildness of the natural world and the interrelationships of its inhabitants. Wolf Rune, recorded in December 2019 in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, is an absorbing addition to Sinikka’s ECM discography, which has featured critically acclaimed projects including Starflowers, The Land That Is Not, Maria’s Song, The Half-Finished Heaven and The Magical Forest.  
Das Soloalbum Wolf Rune wirft ein neues Licht auf die sehr persönliche Sprache von Sinikka Langeland, die Kantele-Spielerin und Folksängerin aus Finnskogen, Norwegens "finnischem Wald".  Sinikka gruppiert ihre eigenen Lieder zwischen Volkshymnen, schamanistischen Runenliedern und traditionellen Tanzstücken, schöpft Texte aus verschiedenen poetischen Quellen und erweitert den Ausdrucksbereich ihrer Instrumente. Nur wenige Musiker verkörpern den ‘genius loci’ so umfassend wie Langeland – ihre Musik sinniert über die Wildheit der natürlichen Welt und die Beziehungen ihrer Bewohner untereinander. Wolf Rune, aufgenommen im Dezember 2019 im Osloer Rainbow Studio, ist eine fesselnde Ergänzung von Sinikkas ECM-Diskografie, die bereits von der Kritik gefeierte Projekte wie Starflowers, The Land That Is Not, Maria’s Song, The Half-Finished Heaven und The Magical Forest umfasst.   
Featured Artists Recorded

December 2019, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

  • 1Moose Rune
    (Sinikka Langeland)
    02:03
  • 2Polsdance from Finnskogen
    (Heikki Granlund, Olav Skaslien)
    03:05
  • 3Row My Ocean
    (Jon Fosse, Sinikka Langeland)
    04:29
  • 4Kantele Prayer I
    (Sinikka Langeland)
    00:50
  • 5The Eye Of The Blue Whale
    (Sinikka Langeland)
    03:36
  • 6When I Was The Forest
    (Eckhart von Hochheim, Sinikka Langeland)
    07:04
  • 7Kantele Prayer II
    (Sinikka Langeland)
    00:54
  • 8Winter Rune
    (Sinikka Langeland)
    06:37
  • 9Don't Come To Me With The Entire Truth
    (Olav H. Hauge, Sinikka Langeland)
    03:35
  • 10The Girl In The Headlands
    (Lauritz Tangen, Magne Halberget)
    02:43
  • 11I See Your Light
    (Karen Karlsen)
    02:08
  • 12Wolf Rune
    (Poul Pedersen, Sinikka Langeland)
    04:55
In der Beschränkung auf Gesang und Kantele entwickelt die Aufnahme im Zusammenspiel der manchmal etwas spröden Stimme und der kargen Instrumentierung enen ganz eigenen meditativen und spirtuellen Reiz – eine Andacht zu Ehren der Natur.    Die Klänge wurzeln in archaischen Vorzeiten, weisen aber gleichzeitig mit experimentellen Elementen in die Zukunft. […] Nebenbei ist das Album ein eindrucksvolles Plädoyer für die Vielseitigkeit der Kantele.
Guido Diesing, Jazzthetik
 
Auf ihrer 39-saitigen, sich über fünfeinhalb Oktaven erstreckenden Konzert-Kantele lässt sie farbenreiche, raumfüllende Klangbilder entstehen, während sie sich auf der fünfsaitigen Kantele mit zwei kurzen ‘Kantele Prayers’ im äußerst reduzierten Musizieren übt. Dazwischen liegt eine fünzehnsaitige Variante dieser sehr ursprünglich klingenden finnischen Kastenzither – in einzelnen Stücken kombiniert sie auch die unterschiedlichen Instrumente miteinander. In die üblichen stilistischen Schubladen passen Sinikka Langelands zwischen Archaischem, Folklore, Jazz und Experimentellem liegenden Klangwelten 0hnehin längst nicht mehr hinein. Auf ‘When I Was The Forest’ erweitert sie mit einem E-Bogen zusätzlich das Farbspektrum zur Untermalung eines von Meister Eckhart inspirierten Textes. Der musikalische Output korrespondiert auf perfekte Weise mit ihren lyrischen Vorlieben, die sich auf diesem Album vom Spätmittelalter bis zu den zeitgenössischen norwegischen Dichtern Olav H. Hauge und Jon Fosse erstrecken. Gesanglich ist sie mit ihrer ausdrucksstarken Stimme tief in der nordischen Tradition verwurzelt, der Titelsong geht auf ein altes Runenlied zurück. Sinikka Langeland pur – ein faszinierendes Erlebnis!
Peter Füssl, Kultur
 
In my review of Langeland’s The Half-Finished Heaven I wrote that ‘the sound of the table harp lacks the dynamic variation to hold the attention…’, and with this new album for kantele and voice I have now been forced to eat my words as Sinikka produces an album that is full of beauty, timbral interest, and yes dynamic variation. Once again, Langeland has taken her inspiration from Finnskogen, Norway’s ‘Finnish forest’ and the kantele player’s home. Spells, incantations, rune songs are intertwined with religious tunes and traditional folk dances in music that is often time rooted yet paradoxically timeless. […] The music brings forth a more contemporary note with the delicious use of space on ‘I See The Light’ performed by Langeland on the 15-string kantele and the relaxed and gentle charm of ‘Don’t Come To Me With The Entire Truth’, but herein lies the beauty of the music in that it appears inherently timeless. This is a wonderous album that in its conception and execution is flawless, and full of meaning and hidden depths.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
 
Se una musica va dritta al Centro, non ci sono tante parole da spendere. […] Siamo nella stanza senza pareti della musica finnica dove vibra la forza ancestrale delle leggende runiche. […] Ma la voce condivide la magia in cui siamo immersi con il suono di cristallo di tre diversi kantele […] che lanciano scintille di mistero anche più abbaglianti. E gallegiano nell’eco imperiosa quanto naturale di un altro capolavoro del Rainbow Studio di Oslo, dove Manfred Eicher cesella da anni gioielli dall’acustica inimitabile.
Carlo Maria Cella, Classic Voice
 
I am completely captivated by the entrancing, meditative music of the Norwegian folksinger and kantele player Sinikka Langeland […] Here, she plays three different kantele instruments (a zither-family table-harp with rich tones), being more rooted in the incantatory and poetic tales of the Finnskogen folklore tradition than in jazz. Yet, a contemporary feel inundates these 12 tracks made of rune songs, folk hymns and dances, and mystic religious chants. Each of them works its own magic, generating a marvel of sounds that search for the elemental beauty in nature. […] On the stunning ‘Winter Rune’, Langeland adds the 5-string kantele to the concert one, making a case for an ambient spaciousness that develops into occasional abstract textures that she sculpts (briefly using the bow) and molds with quill-plucked grace. When her voice is embedded in the last section, it comes with a pleasurably shivering sensation.
Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
 
Langeland’s music blends folk, jazz and improvised music. She has been recording for ECM since 2007 but ‘Wolf Rune’ is her first solo album. […] she plays the 39-string concert kantele, with its extraordinary 5 1/2-octave range. From the ethereal e-bow on the bass strings, to rhythmic strumming and quavery instrumental sections, it has a luxuriant sound. In contrast, two short evocative instrumental pieces ‘Kantele Prayer I & II’ are on 5-string kantele, with a dry sound, like a Japanese koto. […] The songs engage with the natural world. ‘Row My Ocean’ sets a contemporary poem by Jon Fosse. Langeland has been influenced by kveder, an old Norwegian folk song style, as well as jazz singers like Sidsel Endresen and Radka Toneff. She’s talked about how Miles Davis’ microtonal style has influenced her singing too. Sometimes the voice is strong and impassioned, and sometimes intimate. It’s full of artistry and completely without artifice. ‘Winter Rune’ has elements of free improv, with eerie bow creaks and Reichian patterns. She improvises euphorically over waves of shimmery strings. […] It’s a very beautiful, original, thought-provoking album, played and sung by a highly accomplished musician who’s absolutely herself.
Alison Bentley, London Jazz News
 
Armed only with three varieties of kantele (a Finnish table harp that’s like an autoharp, but with a much wider range) and her rich voice, Langeland essays a program of traditional and original tunes, plus poetry set to her own music. […] After almost forty minutes of drawing us into a unique Nordic universe, Langeland draws the program to a close with the title track, a melodic benediction that sends the listener back out into the mundane world, changed for the better for the experience.
Michael Toland, The Big Takeover
 
‘Wolf Rune’ is the first solo outing in Langeland’s catalogue, shedding new light on the multifaceted work of the Norwegian folk singer and kantele player. Incorporating rune songs, spells and incantations, religious tunes and traditional folk dances, it’s fair to say that few artists embody the spirit of place as resolutely as Langeland, her musical interpretations, arrangements, original poems and songs, embodying the mysteries of Finnskogen, Norway’s ‘Finish Forest’, which has long been her home and inspirational source. […] Powerful imagery requires appropriate musical settings, and on ‘Wolf Rune’ Langeland expands the range and reach of her instruments accordingly. Ancient tones can be heard here, as well as sonorities that take the kantele toward new expressive areas. This journey, from the archaic through the worlds of Nordic folk and into the realms of experimentation, are performed as instrumental and as sung pieces, Langeland’s voice echoing the tradition of the kantele with poem, prose and song, her stirring vocals a fine accompaniment to the atmosphere created with her kantele playing. […] I have listened over and over to these tunes and I can honestly say this has been a revelatory experience. I am totally hooked on the stunning sound of the kantele. In the hands (and mind, spirit, heart and soul) of Sinikka Langeland, I have discovered a musician totally at one with her instrument.
Mike Gates, UK Vibe
 
Being in a room with Sinikka Langeland is like being charmed into a northern forest under a night sky. Her presence and her voice are magical enough, but when she plays her kantele you can almost feel nature itself quivering with joy. […] On ‘Wolf Rune’ she plays three different kanteles: the seductively earthy 39-string five-and-a-half octave concert kantele, the 15-string kantele whose bell-like tones shimmer in the hymn-like ‘I See Your Light’, and the small but gently bewitching five-string kantele. This is a must-have release, with Langeland casting an exquisite spell over every track.
Fiona Talkington, Songlines
 
In der Beschränkung auf Gesang und Kantele entwickelt die Aufnahme im Zusammenspiel der manchmal etwas spröden Stimme und der kargen Instrumentierung enen ganz eigenen meditativen und spirtuellen Reiz – eine Andacht zu Ehren der Natur.  Die Klänge wurzeln in archaischen Vorzeiten, weisen aber gleichzeitig mit experimentellen Elementen in die Zukunft. […] Nebenbei ist das Album ein eindrucksvolles Plädoyer für die Vielseitigkeit der Kantele.  
Guido Diesing, Jazzthetik
 
Auf ihrer 39-saitigen, sich über fünfeinhalb Oktaven erstreckenden Konzert-Kantele lässt sie farbenreiche, raumfüllende Klangbilder entstehen, während sie sich auf der fünfsaitigen Kantele mit zwei kurzen ‘Kantele Prayers’ im äußerst reduzierten Musizieren übt. Dazwischen liegt eine fünzehnsaitige Variante dieser sehr ursprünglich klingenden finnischen Kastenzither – in einzelnen Stücken kombiniert sie auch die unterschiedlichen Instrumente miteinander. In die üblichen stilistischen Schubladen passen Sinikka Langelands zwischen Archaischem, Folklore, Jazz und Experimentellem liegenden Klangwelten 0hnehin längst nicht mehr hinein. Auf ‘When I Was The Forest’ erweitert sie mit einem E-Bogen zusätzlich das Farbspektrum zur Untermalung eines von Meister Eckhart inspirierten Textes. Der musikalische Output korrespondiert auf perfekte Weise mit ihren lyrischen Vorlieben, die sich auf diesem Album vom Spätmittelalter bis zu den zeitgenössischen norwegischen Dichtern Olav H. Hauge und Jon Fosse erstrecken. Gesanglich ist sie mit ihrer ausdrucksstarken Stimme tief in der nordischen Tradition verwurzelt, der Titelsong geht auf ein altes Runenlied zurück. Sinikka Langeland pur – ein faszinierendes Erlebnis!
Peter Füssl, Kultur
 
Armed only with three varieties of kantele (a Finnish table harp that’s like an autoharp, but with a much wider range) and her rich voice, Langeland essays a program of traditional and original tunes, plus poetry set to her own music. […] After almost forty minutes of drawing us into a unique Nordic universe, Langeland draws the program to a close with the title track, a melodic benediction that sends the listener back out into the mundane world, changed for the better for the experience.
Michael Toland, The Big Takeover
 
‘Wolf Rune’ is the first solo outing in Langeland’s catalogue, shedding new light on the multifaceted work of the Norwegian folk singer and kantele player. Incorporating rune songs, spells and incantations, religious tunes and traditional folk dances, it’s fair to say that few artists embody the spirit of place as resolutely as Langeland, her musical interpretations, arrangements, original poems and songs, embodying the mysteries of Finnskogen, Norway’s ‘Finish Forest’, which has long been her home and inspirational source. […] Powerful imagery requires appropriate musical settings, and on ‘Wolf Rune’ Langeland expands the range and reach of her instruments accordingly. Ancient tones can be heard here, as well as sonorities that take the kantele toward new expressive areas. This journey, from the archaic through the worlds of Nordic folk and into the realms of experimentation, are performed as instrumental and as sung pieces, Langeland’s voice echoing the tradition of the kantele with poem, prose and song, her stirring vocals a fine accompaniment to the atmosphere created with her kantele playing. […] I have listened over and over to these tunes and I can honestly say this has been a revelatory experience. I am totally hooked on the stunning sound of the kantele. In the hands (and mind, spirit, heart and soul) of Sinikka Langeland, I have discovered a musician totally at one with her instrument.
Mike Gates, UK Vibe
 
Langeland’s music blends folk, jazz and improvised music. She has been recording for ECM since 2007 but ‘Wolf Rune’ is her first solo album. […] she plays the 39-string concert kantele, with its extraordinary 5 1/2-octave range. From the ethereal e-bow on the bass strings, to rhythmic strumming and quavery instrumental sections, it has a luxuriant sound. In contrast, two short evocative instrumental pieces ‘Kantele Prayer I & II’ are on 5-string kantele, with a dry sound, like a Japanese koto. […] The songs engage with the natural world. ‘Row My Ocean’ sets a contemporary poem by Jon Fosse. Langeland has been influenced by kveder, an old Norwegian folk song style, as well as jazz singers like Sidsel Endresen and Radka Toneff. She’s talked about how Miles Davis’ microtonal style has influenced her singing too. Sometimes the voice is strong and impassioned, and sometimes intimate. It’s full of artistry and completely without artifice. ‘Winter Rune’ has elements of free improv, with eerie bow creaks and Reichian patterns. She improvises euphorically over waves of shimmery strings. […] It’s a very beautiful, original, thought-provoking album, played and sung by a highly accomplished musician who’s absolutely herself.
Alison Bentley, London Jazz News
 
On peut tomber raide amoureux des chansons de Sinikka Langeland. Malgré leur abord si mistérieux. Ou à cause de cela. De ce genre de beauté qui vous frappe sans qu’il soit nécessaire de saisir ses ressorts. Nul doute que ce cristal d’harmonies, aux confins du folk et du jazz et qu’on ne songerait à étiqueter ni d’un côté ni de l’autre, résulte d’une compréhension musicale embrassant aussi bien Bach qu’un folklore norvégien dont on ignore à peu près tout. L’éventuel savoir musicologique importé dans sa matière par la joueuse de kantele ne pèse plus très lourd quand on adhère instinctivement à sa limpidité d’expression […] Douze fragments d’une symphonie solitaire et dans chacun d’eux un trésor de sensations enfouies.
François Gorin, Telerama
 
I am completely captivated by the entrancing, meditative music of the Norwegian folksinger and kantele player Sinikka Langeland […] Here, she plays three different kantele instruments (a zither-family table-harp with rich tones), being more rooted in the incantatory and poetic tales of the Finnskogen folklore tradition than in jazz. Yet, a contemporary feel inundates these 12 tracks made of rune songs, folk hymns and dances, and mystic religious chants. Each of them works its own magic, generating a marvel of sounds that search for the elemental beauty in nature. […] On the stunning ‘Winter Rune’, Langeland adds the 5-string kantele to the concert one, making a case for an ambient spaciousness that develops into occasional abstract textures that she sculpts (briefly using the bow) and molds with quill-plucked grace. When her voice is embedded in the last section, it comes with a pleasurably shivering sensation.
Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
 
Die Klangfarben changieren nuancenreich zwischen Laute und Gitarre, Harfe und Bass, Zither und Cembalo. Der Reichtum an Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten ist schier überwältigend. […] Ein zauberhaftes Album.
Jens-Uwe Sommerschuh, Sächsische Zeitung
 
Das Album basiert auf Runenliedern, Zaubersprüchen und Beschwörungen, religiösen und traditionellen Melodien, Volkstänzen und naturverbundener Lyrik. Sie vertont und singt dabei Texte von Meister Eckhart, Jon Fosse und Olav Håkonson Hauges bis zu eigenen. Damit kreiert Sinikka Langeland ihre völlig markante, faszinierende Musikwelt, die gleichzeitig uralt, archaisch und neu erklingt und ganz aus ihrer Zeit spricht. Sie verbreitet einen eigenartigen Zauber, dem sich kaum entziehen kann, wer offene Ohren hat.  
Steff Rohrbach, Jazz’n’more
 
In my review of Langeland’s The Half-Finished Heaven I wrote that ‘the sound of the table harp lacks the dynamic variation to hold the attention…’, and with this new album for kantele and voice I have now been forced to eat my words as Sinikka produces an album that is full of beauty, timbral interest, and yes dynamic variation. Once again, Langeland has taken her inspiration from Finnskogen, Norway’s ‘Finnish forest’ and the kantele player’s home. Spells, incantations, rune songs are intertwined with religious tunes and traditional folk dances in music that is often time rooted yet paradoxically timeless. […] The music brings forth a more contemporary note with the delicious use of space on ‘I See The Light’ performed by Langeland on the 15-string kantele and the relaxed and gentle charm of ‘Don’t Come To Me With The Entire Truth’, but herein lies the beauty of the music in that it appears inherently timeless. This is a wonderous album that in its conception and execution is flawless, and full of meaning and hidden depths.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
 
Se una musica va dritta al Centro, non ci sono tante parole da spendere. […] Siamo nella stanza senza pareti della musica finnica dove vibra la forza ancestrale delle leggende runiche. […] Ma la voce condivide la magia in cui siamo immersi con il suono di cristallo di tre diversi kantele […] che lanciano scintille di mistero anche più abbaglianti. E gallegiano nell’eco imperiosa quanto naturale di un altro capolavoro del Rainbow Studio di Oslo, dove Manfred Eicher cesella da anni gioielli dall’acustica inimitabile.
Carlo Maria Cella, Classic Voice
 
Being in a room with Sinikka Langeland is like being charmed into a northern forest under a night sky. Her presence and her voice are magical enough, but when she plays her kantele you can almost feel nature itself quivering with joy. […] On ‘Wolf Rune’ she plays three different kanteles: the seductively earthy 39-string five-and-a-half octave concert kantele, the 15-string kantele whose bell-like tones shimmer in the hymn-like ‘I See Your Light’, and the small but gently bewitching five-string kantele. This is a must-have release, with Langeland casting an exquisite spell over every track.
Fiona Talkington, Songlines
Wolf Rune, the first solo recording in Sinikka Langeland’s ECM discography, sheds new light on the multifaceted work of the Norwegian folk singer and kantele player. Few artists embody the spirit of place as resolutely as Sinikka and her songs, compositions, poem settings and arrangements reflect, in different ways, the histories and mysteries of Finnskogen, Norway’s ‘Finnish forest’, which has long been both her home base and inspirational source.
 
The new album incorporates rune songs, spells and incantations, religious tunes and traditional folk dances, as well as verses that testify to the interlinked nature of all things. This pantheistic spirit is echoed in Sinikka’s choice of writers – from 13th century medieval mystic and philosopher Meister Eckhart (quoted and adapted on “When I was The Forest”) to contemporary playwright and poet Jon Fosse (“Row My Ocean”). Langeland’s own lyrics, too, have an almost shamanistic vibrancy as on “The Eye of the Blue Whale”: “The eye of the blue whale/It was already here/we were without a body/ swathed in sinew, flesh and blood/we were without words.”
 
Powerful images require appropriate musical settings and on Wolf Rune, Langeland expands the range and reach of her instruments accordingly. Ancient tones can be heard here, as well as sonorities that take the kantele toward new expressive areas. This journey, from the archaic through the worlds of Nordic folk to the experimental, has become an exploratory thread in Langeland’s work. Her earlier ECM recordings – beginning with Starflowers in 2006 – instigated collaboration with improvisers; in the process, her own playing has become emboldened.
 
Sinikka is playing three kanteles, of very different character and capacity, on the present recording. Her 39-string concert kantele, built by Hannu Koistinen, is heard on “Polsdance from Finnskogen”, “Row My Ocean”, “The Eye Of The Blue Whale”, “When I Was The Forest”, “Don’t Come to Me With The Entire Truth”, “The Girl In The Headlands” and “Wolf Rune”. Over the course of the album Sinikka makes full use of the instrument’s five and a half octaves. “The range is almost like an entire piano. Many people are surprised by how big and deep its bass is,” Langeland notes.
 
“Winter Rune” features both the concert kantele and a 5-string kantele made by Kaijo Säteri. The 5-string is also heard on the two “Kantele Prayer” pieces. Sinikka: “It’s a challenge to figure out how much music you can create with a few strings.” A 15-string kantele built by Erkki Okkonen is played with a bow on the opening “Moose Rune”, and plucked on “I See Your Light”. On “When I Was The Forest” the use of an E-bow coaxes new colours and textures from the concert kantele. But here, too, Langeland keeps in mind music’s time-honoured role of responding to and echoing the sounds of nature.
 
*
 
Sinikka Langeland was born in Kirkenær in southeastern Norway in 1961, and studied piano, guitar and contemporary folk song. In 1981 she began to play the kantele, the Finnish table-harp which would become her primary musical interest, along with singing. In the 1980s she also devoted time to theatre work and to studies at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris and at the University of Oslo, where she earned a degree in musicology in 1992. She then became absorbed in a major research project, foraging for old songs and music from Finnskogen, and helping to revive the region’s folk traditions.
 
Wolf Rune was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow studio in December 2019. Sinikka Langeland’s previous albums for ECM are Starflowers (recorded 2006), Maria’s Song (2008), The Land That Is Not (2010), The Half-Finished Heaven (2013) and The Magical Forest (2015).
 
CD booklet for Wolf Rune includes all song texts in Norwegian and English
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