For my part, a great deal of anticipation preceded the release of this, the second album from the Danish duo Elof & Wamberg. Their first album, 12 Ornli’ Syge Tracks For Ukulele Og Kontrabas, was one of the most interesting albums I’ve heard in many a year and so this follow-up release had a great deal to live up to although I had confidence they wouldn’t let me down. They didn’t.
Nicolaj Wamberg (double bass) and Tobias Elof (ukulele) perform what they describe as “experimental folk music”, which I think is a fair and concise description of their sound. Their music is often gentle and yet full of definition and passion. Whilst both musicians are extremely technically skilled they manage to blend their talents into a tender and compassionate sound that takes your mind away from the skill needed to create it and you just drift with the music. No matter how hard I concentrate on their underlying craft, the beauty of the music always soothes my mind into a different level of appreciation.
The new album, “Byen Sover” (The City Is Sleeping) was released in November 2015 and includes a collection of compositions based around the theme of the city. The first thing that struck me is the sound of the double bass. It seems more prominent on this album and assumes a lead role a little more often. Two excellent examples of this can be heard in the bowed melody of “Hørsholmsgade” where the ukulele plays, or rather taps, a rather clever percussive part and in “Måneskin” where the bass again takes the lead, at least until the fiddle takes over, and the ukulele provides an off beat reggae chop.
Tobias Elof’s ukulele performance is of course as delightful as ever. The roving melody to “Byen Sover” is just heavenly, backed by a descending harmonic bass line, whilst “Brudestykker” and “Erindring” put us back in more familiar folk melody territory but are no less exceptional in both performance and expression.
There are a couple of other moments on the album that show the duo pushing forward and experimenting even further. “Täppa” brings in percussion with the use of what I believe to be a Cajon and the final track of the album, “Noret” is an unexpected solo piano piece!
Elof & Wamberg’s second collaboration is simply stunning. It engages and interests you on a technical level whilst whisking you away to a wonderful plain of musical tranquillity. The album has carried the brightly burning torch of their first release deeper into their harmonious souls and emphatically rewarded the confidence I had they would deliver something rather special with a breathtaking collection of music.
This wonderful album is available to purchase or stream from your favourite online music resource and you can find out more about the duo on their website.