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On this self-titled debut recording, Swedish trio Fatang present an updated version of traditional Uppland folk music, for a sound at once familiar and strange. The familiarity lies in the recognizably Swedish melodies, some traditional, some new compositions. These melodies are intoned mostly on Henrik Eriksson's nyckelharpa, a fiddle-like instrument that, while bowed, is keyed instead of fingered and sports both drone and sympathetic strings; the resulting sound, while fiddle-like, has a markedly different and sharper tonal attack. Peter Rousu's jazzy electric bass also inclines Fatang's music away from the mainstream, but it is Olle Bohm's humorously creative percussion, a diverse concoction of gongs, cymbals, bells, pipes, vases, balafons, and even a few drums, that really provokes a double-take. The result is lively, challenging and, above all, good-natured.

On "Brostugan," a contented, swinging waltz opened by Rousu's acoustic guitar melody atop a nyckelharpa drone and the eccentrically timed clicks of Bohm's percussion, the nyckelharpa lead maintains a dignified reticence while lilting energetically. "Den där" features a jazzier waltz beat, with what sounds like balafon or xylophone meandering merrily behind the nyckelharpa melody, beat driven by bass. A quick 6/8 march beat benefiting from Bohm's challenging percussive parsing conspires with a long, sinuous nyckelharpa melody line and bouncy electric bass to force "Karl XII vals" irresistibly forward at the risk of falling breathlessly over. "Kjoltyg" is a quiet, whimsical waltz with atmospheric bass and percussion featuring a variety of oddly timed clangs and a return of the balafon, nyckelharpa embellishing a melody so intuitively familiar you could swear you woke up humming it this morning, perhaps because it seems to contain snatches of everything from Beethoven to Christmas carols. There is a particularly nice if brief fugue between nyckelharpa and bass near the end of this track.

"Färka-Lasse" starts like a hoedown, with quickly bowed nyckelharpa and jaw-harp, then develops into pert common time with emphasis on beat three beneath a lively melody, percussion again impishly adding odd cymbal clashes and clicks while bass keeps the time. A playfully Motown intro on shuffling percussion and bass chords leads to a pair of genuine imitation Uppland tunes (according to the liner notes) on "Schottismarsch/Magstudsaren," both distinguished by a gentle good-nature. Bouncy, syncopated intro on plucked bass and clicking, clanging percussion leads you to expect avant industrial jazz on "Elviran," but instead a swinging version of a lullabye emerges, a tune both pretty and unexpected. "Månnkarbopolketten" offers a driving tune from the enigmatic Balkan-Flamenco fastnesses of Uppland, featuring rolling tablas, acoustic guitar, and Gypsy nickelharpa, humorous yet exhilarating.

Liner notes are sparse but adequate in both Swedish and English, although I'd have enjoyed more information on Bohm's percussion kit and Eriksson's nyckelharpa. But the proof on Fatang's creativity is in the listening.

—Jim Foley, RootsWorld Bulletin #281, www.rootsworld.com

Who would have thought you could mix electric bass with exotic drums and a Swedish nyckelharpa, then add a gentle sprinkling of soft latin swing and have it all come off sounding perfectly natural? Fatang has managed to pull this off on their debut album. ... A trio of younger generation Uppland natives, Fatang consists of Henrik Erikssson on nyckelharpa, Peter Rousu on guitar and electric bass, plus Olle Bohm on percussion. It is especially interesting and fun for those of us with Uppland ears to hear this music.

Right out of the starting gate, Fatang stakes its territory with a distinctive sound and identity entirely its own, and although it might be taken as an overabundance of local patriotism on my part, I don't hesitate for a moment to give Fatang the highest marks for their very successful mix of traditional tunes, exotic percussion and jazzy rhythms. Just listen how the trio gives an airy latin feel to the Karl XII waltz—Olle Bohm's drums and Peter Rousu's easy going electric fusion bass behind Henrik Eriksson's sensitive silvery tones on the nyckelharpa. It is magnificent! Uppland music in a totally new light. The same can be said for Bohlinpolska as well as Brostugan. The trio writes some excellent material of their own too, built on solid traditional foundations..

—Ulf Gustavsson (translated by Rita Leydon
, Uppsala Nya Tidning, June, 2004, www.unt.se

It is Henrik Eriksson's brilliant nyckelharpa playing that is the foundation of Fatang's sound, but when Olle Bohm's percussion and Peter Rousu's guitar/bass join in, suddenly something entirely new happens—the traditional Swedish folk music (both old and new with Uppland roots) gets an exciting new pulse as it encounters rhythms from other places and spaces. A remarkably airy and delightful meeting of sounds. The infectious joy these three exceptional musicians convey is a spice unto itself.

—Winnie Gravlund (translated by Rita Leydon
Helsingborgs Dagblad, May 29, 2004,www.hd.se

Fatang are another Swedish folk band, who combine traditional and traditional style nyckelharpa tunes with modern use of guitar and bass, and some very distinctive, forward-thinking percussion styles. A stately tune like Karl XII Vals is mixed with a funky bass-line and percussion techniques that are from way outside of this genre but work really well. Another example of the success they have combining old and new is Färka-Lasse, written by percussionist Olle Bohm, but indistinguishable from traditional tunes in style. This also stars Bohm's inventive percussion and a modern baseline, and also at the start there's this bassy sound that has almost a didgeridoo-like feel, which I expect is probably a bass guitar that's been fed through some sort of processing equipment. Mysrys is a laid-back tune with distinctive use of cymbals which provide an atmospheric quality that evokes visions of a strong wind blowing outside. I would suspect this is the intention, as Mysrys is translated as 'a cozy shiver'. Månkarbopolketten, written by guitarist/bassist Peter Rousu, is described in the notes as 'absolutely not a genuine Uppland tune,' and how true. Whilst there are shades of traditional Swedish music here, it also mixes in a strong Spanish influence, as well as the occasional discordant bit. Another truly superb album—this label is definitely one to keep an eye on.

—Kim Harten, www.blissaquamarine.net (fanzine)
issue 24, summer 2004

These days, many attempts are made to blend and bring together differing musical styles. Although this can be both fun and exhilarating, it doesn't necessarily mean that the results are always good or even worthwhile!

Magnus Ericsson, leader of the Linköping Jazz Orchestra, has an uncanny knack for creating meaningful encounters of this sort that tend to be wonderful musical conversations and exchanges, as opposed to just unpleasant collisions. Last year the hip-hop group, Ship of Fools, was invited to jam with the orchestra; this year the folk music trio Fatang, consisting of nyckelharpa, guitar and percussion, were special guests.

It might seem at first glance that these are two musical entities too divergent to mesh into any sort of meaningful harmony, but it worked—mostly because of impressive arrangements in which traditional folk melodies were jazzed up with great skill and impeccably good taste. The evening's musical encounter had leanings not of folk musicians interpreting jazz, but rather the other way around.

Among the jazz band's own, I enjoyed Nils Odelstam's trombone solo the most. He's the current youth scholarship intern. Magnus Ericsson's soprano sax in unison with the nyckelharpa wasn't too shabby either.

Rustic three-beat nyckelharpa tunes by Byss-Calle may not be a match made in heaven for a die-hard big band enthusiast, but it certainly was an inspired combination for a flirtatious one-night stand which definitely left the audience wanting more.

—Gunnar Ekermo (translated by Rita Leydon)
Östgota Correspondenten, April 10, 2004, www.corren.se

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