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Album review: Vi på Langedrag

Vi på Langedrag is Sigmund’s Norwegian CD release in 2001. It offers original music composed for a TV documentary series about a wildlife park where humans and animals interact. Sigmund is joined by guest musicians such as Steinar Ofsdal (flute), Anna Vada (vocals) and Steinar Larsen (guitar).

As listeners, we have come to expect a high quality in Sigmund’s albums, both in terms of compositions and production level. Vi på Langedrag does not disappoint; Sigmund’s unique talent for instantly recognizable melodic tunes has been used to maximum effect all through the album. The opening track, Main theme, sets the standard with it’s catchy theme tune performed with variatons on harmonica, flute and violin. In many ways it is a typical Sigmund Groven song; it blends a timeless musical theme with Norwegian folk music and a contemporary arrangement with drums and acoustic guitar. As a composer Sigmund also proves to be a humble artist, as his hormonica is not always the main instrument of the song. He allows plenty of space for Ofsdal’s flute and Øyvind Bjorå’s violin.

This is also the case with a few other tracks; New Life does not feature the harmonica at all, but allows room for Anna Vada’s angelic voice to perform the theme. Song of the wolf is another non-harmonica track, but in stead it features real wolves, howling in sync with the music. What a fantasic musical experiment, and a beautiful tribute to a canine species that has an undeserved bad reputation. In the same non-harmonica category belongs Troll Maiden’s Song, performed with synths, Vada’s soprano voice, French horn and flute. An extremely beautiful melody that should have lasted much longer than it’s current 1:52 minutes. All these tracks add diversity to the album, and even if they do not feature the harmonica they seem to naturally belong to this album.

I would also like to mention Mountain Trek, which perfectly represents the atmosphere you may find when going on a mountain hike above the tree limit. Norwegian “arctic moods” and fresh mountain air has been captured very well in this song. The tune may also be that perfect tune we frequently get from Sigmund; it adds itself to your “most hummable song repository” after the first play. In the same category you will also find Lullaby, a synth-and-flute piece.

The only song that I feel is out of place on this album, is Lost Sheep, a traditional lullaby that may have worked in the context of certain TV images, but the melody, to me, has different associations than wildlife animals, and thus seem to not relate as much to the TV series as the other songs.

It can be argued wether composing music for TV images puts limitations on the composer because the images already dictate a certain frame. Or maybe one could say the images will inspire the composer to create music he or she would not think about without the images. In most cases, movie or TV music works best when experienced as support for the visuals, so if a less talented composer than Sigmund Groven took it upon himself to score the Langedrag soundtrack, we could have had a rather boring CD in our hands. But, in spite of several short songs, this CD is well worth having for any Sigmund Groven or harmonica fan, not just because it is another CD in the collection, but because musically it stands on it’s own merit more than most other TV soundtracks. You do not have to have seen the TV series to appreciate the music or the concept it was composed for. The music alone will carry you out in the forests and to the moors.

Vi på Langedrag is a fine harmonica album that brings you classic Sigmund Groven songs, but also a new angle to his music defined by TV images. In this sense, Vi på Langedrag represents both tradition and a fresh outlook. And what can be better than that?

Written by Glenn Folkvord.