FIKA is the latest recording from crossover ensemble Elysian Fields: beautiful music that plays and sings to the gathering of friends with food and fine conversation!
Elysian Fields (Australia’s only electric viola da gamba ensemble) comprises stars of Australia’s jazz, classical and world music scene. The music on Fika is inspired by Scandinavia. It has deep roots in viola da gambist and artistic director, Jenny Eriksson’s Swedish ancestry – her grandfather arrived in Melbourne from Stockholm in the 1920s - and her love of Scandinavian jazz and folk music.
Fika (pron. ‘fee-ka’), takes its name from the Swedish practice of fika: sitting down for coffee, conversation and pastries with friends and family. By good fortune, Elysian Fields is uniquely well-placed to breathe life into such a cross-hemispheres project.
In addition to Eriksson’s experience of making and recording Swedish baroque and folk music, singer/violinist Susie Bishop also has links to Sweden via her partner and visits often. She speaks Swedish and sings all but two songs in the language.
Saxophonist/composer Matt Keegan – who also produced the album – spent a year studying the saxophone in Sweden and his composition, “Cold Soul”, take its inspiration from the frozen landscapes of northern Europe.
Finally, bass guitarist Siebe Pogson is Swedish on his mother’s side and has visited on several occasions.
In addition to several stunning folk song arrangements by pianist Matt McMahon and Susie Bishop, Fika presents Australian-first recordings of music by renowned Norwegian jazz pianist and composer, Jan Gunnar Hoff, and Swedish jazz greats, e.s.t.. Bass player Dave Ellis introduced Eriksson to Hoff’s music and the composer proved both collaborative and supportive of the project. The album opens with his piece “Living” and closes with a heart-felt cover of the e.s.t. ballad, “Believe Beleft Below”.
The CD booklet also features paintings by Swedish artist Nils Gunnar Zander, another friend of Jenny Eriksson’s. For 25 years Zander has divided his time between Australia and Stockholm, drawing inspiration from the landscapes of the Australian outback. In the final analysis, Fika is music from and for the soul. It reaches out, grabs you and won’t let go!
Elysian Fields, Australia’s only electric viola da gamba ensemble, was formed by Jenny Eriksson, Matt Keegan and Matt McMahon in 2015. The band is an ongoing experiment in creating new improvised and composed repertoire for the electric viola da gamba – of which Eriksson is believed to be the only Australian exponent.
“... six players of diverse backgrounds (were given) a chance to excavate a unique collective sound ... classical, folk, jazz and early music ... The band here achieves that goal on a repertoire of Scandinavian folk music: pieces that readily accommodate the eccentric instrumentation, and also grooves, textures, harmonies and improvisational language rooted in jazz. The source material is often exquisite, and the arrangements deft.” ★★★★Read full review
— John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
“... the alluring melodies and wonderfully nuanced playing on this album make it a highly successful jazz-classical hybrid with wide appeal.” ★★★★
— Jessica Nicholas, Dingo Jazz
“Their aim of creating a beautiful recording has well and truly been achieved, and once our lives return to some semblance of normality following the emergence of the virus that has shaken the world, Fika will indeed bring people together. With the exception of the song ‘Vi ska stalla till en roliger dans’ (We are going to put on a fun dance) which is a happy rustic folk dance complete with a folksy violin, all the tracks have a meditative quality to them. It’s impossible to put Elysian Fields, made up as it is of baroque and jazz musicians, into a definitive musical category.”Read full review
— Loretta Barnard, australianjazz.net
“'Living' is a Jan Bunnar Hoff composition. The distinct sounds of Norway run through the flowing melody as the ensemble brings the song to life with energy and vitality. Bishops’ violin and Eriksson’s electric viola da gamba blend with Keegan’s warm saxophone to give a beautiful sonority. Keegan’s improvisations are passionate and flow in a manner complementary to the melody and overall mood of the composition. The marriage of jazz and Scandinavian music is beautiful. 'Vi Ska ställa till enroliger dans' is a traditional melody that has been used as a round dance-singing game since the 1800s in Stockholm. The counterpoint in the instrumental sections is varied and plentiful with exciting textures and sounds. FIKA is a beautiful recording that captures an ensemble that is creative and passionate about their artistic statement. This album has an extensive musical appeal and needs to be heard.”
— Griff Stevens, 5 Finger Review
“The least I can say about this CD is that it’s uncommon; you won’t find much to compare it with on the folk or jazz or serious music scenes.”Read full review
— Clive O'Connell, O'Connell the Music
“The music speaks of passion and the human condition. It is a triumphant merger of the baroque period viola da gamba, a sublime soprano voice and other instruments often associated with jazz. Highly recommended.”
— Robert Vale, Fine Music Sydney / 2MBS
“The music on Fika is a fusion that transcends jazz, classical and folk idioms, although it really has its own identity, created from the deep Scandinavian roots of Eriksson and her troupe. Listening to the tracks, I am aware that this is ‘living’ music – written by contemporary legends but embracing ideas from the past and developing new ideas from the present. A soothing listen, perfect for intimate times with family and friends.”Read full review
— Shamistha de Soysa, SoundsLikeSydney
“Elysian Fields’ latest offering Fika – The Scandinavian Project, is a celebration of culture, personal history and sharing together during times of isolation. In all, Elysian Fields’ Fika is a throughly enjoyable album, taking the listener on a journey through Scandinavian folk music and more.”
— Claire Matthews, classikON
“The repertoire on FIKA is diverse and consists of original works by band members, arrangements of Scandinavian folk songs alongside pieces from contemporary Scandinavian jazz artists. The skill of the performers ensures that the music was always refined and maintained a high degree of clarity, regardless of its complexity. There were many stand out moments for me listening to FIKA. I enjoyed hearing the variety and combination of original music and of new arrangements of Scandinavian traditional and contemporary repertoire.”Read full review
— Rafael Karlen, Music Trust e-zine Loud Mouth
- Living Jan Gunnar Hoff
- Frid på Jord (Peace on Earth) Sofia Karlsson
- Vi ska ställa till en roliger dans (We are going to put on a fun dance) (Traditional)
- Låt till Far (Tune to my father) Pers Erik Olsson
- När som jag var på mitt adertonde år (When I was in my eighteenth year) (Traditional)
- Meditatus Jan Gunnar Hoff
- Cold soul Matt Keegan
- The Tragedy Siebe Pogson
- Believe Beleft Below Esbjörn Svensson
- Susie Bishop · violin
- Matt Keegan · saxophone
- Jennifer Eriksson · electric viola da gamba
- Siebe Pogson · bass
- Dave Goodman · drums
- Matt McMahon · piano
Jan Gunnar Hoff is a Norwegian composer/pianist who has two compositions on the Elysian Fields CD 'Fika'.
Sofia Karlsson (b. 1975) is one of Sweden's best-known and most successful contemporary folk singers.
Pers Erik Olsson (1912–1983) was a Swedish folk musician and member of a famous musical family from the province of Dalarna, north west of Stockholm.
Matt Keegan regularly performs throughout Australia and around the world.
Siebe Pogson is a multi-instrumentalist and composer and leader of the group Funk Engine.
Esbjörn Svensson (16 April 1964 – 14 June 2008) was a prominent Swedish jazz pianist/composer and founder of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, commonly known as e.s.t.
Where to buy
Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.
- List price
- $25.00 AUD
- Release date
- July 2020
- © 2020 Elysian Fields
- ℗ 2020 Move Records
- Catalogue number
- MCD 603
- EAN 9314574060324