PRESS

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ALBUM REVIEW

"String Quartets" Kristian Blak (FKT085)

NeoQuartet's recording of Kristian Blak's six string quartets is a very ambitious and intriguing release that stands at the highest world level of contemporary classical music. - Marcin Kozicki 2022

http://www.stacjaislandia.pl/aktualnosci/muzyka/recenzje-albumow/kristian-blak-neoquartet-string-quartets-recenzja/

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Fuglar, Fiskar & Fólk" Kristian Blak (HJF433)

In the works of Kristian Blak one can hear references to classical music and jazz, to experimental and improvised music as well as to film music. The pianist is inclined to build music according to his own rules, on a completely free creation. 

In "Fuglar, Fiskar & Fólk" we are dealing with a great melodic and aesthetic adventure. In nineteen miniatures, Kristian Blak provides a real wealth of impressions and moods. The most important thing is that you want to come back to the album. And that's wonderful about this release. - Marcin Kozicki 2017

http://www.stacjaislandia.pl/aktualnosci/muzyka/recenzje-albumow/kristian-blak-neoquartet-string-quartets-recenzja/

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Timint Areh" Yggdrasil (HJF555)

Vera's unusual voice has something of the spirit of shamanic ecstasy, it is associated with secret rituals. Her singing has an undeniable charm. The vocal lines seem to be an extremely interesting journey to distant lands. If any of you are interested in such unusual worlds, you must listen to "Timint Areh". I really appreciate it and I highly recommend it. - Marcin Kozicki 2022

http://www.stacjaislandia.pl/aktualnosci/muzyka/recenzje-albumow/vera-kondrateva-yggdrasil-timint-areh-recenzja/

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Lipet Ei" Yggdrasil (HJF377)

It is not often one gets to hear samples and syntheses of musics of those residing immediately below the North Pole, especially at many different longitudes. Yggdrasil allows us that opportunity, drawing on the soundscapes and mythologies of the “circum-Arctic” region, specifically the Faroe Islands, Siberia, northwestern Canada, and the Aleutian Islands. 

The cinematic compositions and arrangements of Faroese multi-instrumentalist Kristian Blak and Russian singer Vera Kondrateva temper the older traditional materials with clarity and sublime sensitivity.  - Dylan McDonnell 2017

https://rootsworld.com/reviews/yggdrasil-17.shtml

"Lipet Ei" is an album recorded on the border of two realities. The current, contemporary and tangible, as well as the old, inaccessible and metaphysical. It is easy to touch the instruments, harder to make them create mysticism. Yggdrasil is capable of this. Listen to "Lipet Ei" and you will know what I mean.

Any enthusiast of combining modern jazz and folk with tradition, with ethnicity or simply someone who appreciates artistic innovations should pay attention to the album "Lipet Ei", but also to the entirety of Yggdrasil's work. This is a trace of genius. There is no point in finding any references to anything. - Marcin Kozicki 2016

http://www.stacjaislandia.pl/aktualnosci/muzyka/recenzje-albumow/yggdrasil-lipet-ei-seven-brothers/

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Porkerisvatn" Yggdrasil (HJF355)

Yggdrasil has created an album that is engaging and thrilling. The musicians once again take their hearts with their unique and varied vision of music, so fascinating and ravishing that balances on the verge of metaphysicality. "Porkerisvatn" is a work that, from the first listening, takes the audience on an extraordinary, captivating and unforgettable journey. Just a moment and we are already flying over the Faroe Islands and the lake to which this publication is devoted. It's worth looping this album. It's just great. - Marcin Kozicki 2021

http://www.stacjaislandia.pl/aktualnosci/muzyka/recenzje-albumow/yggdrasil-porkerisvatn-recenzja/

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Images" Kristian Blak (FKT005)

I have, for a long time, had an intense admiration for Scandinavian music, and in Blak's composition I again experienced the reasons for this admiration: the paradox between warmth and coldness, vibrating oscillation and uncompromising firmness, expansiveness and minute detail - all this was heard in »Images«; all this were the musicians of Moyzes Quartet able to reveal and bring forth from this remarkable score. (Igor Javorsky, Concert review,  Slovakia)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Harra Pætur og Elinborg" Kristian Blak (FKT002)

Harra Pætur og Elinborg is full of fantasy, life and vigour and it fulfills the scenic demands of the libretto (based on a Faroese ballad) as well as the demands of symphonic forms that arise from the musical material and the processes of composing. The artistic content is well balanced: the stylistic contrasts are worked together in a meaningful way as convincing expressions of organic growth. (Svend Aaquist Johansen, conductor, Denmark)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Spælimenninir" Spælimenninir (SHD066 & more)

»Great music! I don't even know what to dance to do to it, but you feel like dancing when you listen to it.  Gosh, they're  wonderful!« (Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion,, Public Radio) Minnesota USA)

 

The technical expertise of the four young people, together with the enthusiastic energy of their performance held the audience completely in thrall. (The Orcadian) Orkney, UK.)

 

A highlight on the past season on Garrison Keilor's »Prairie Home Companion« was Spælimenninir, a group of four  Scandinavians and two  Americans which is familiar to New England folk and dance enthusiasts. There are many  different  shades on  this, their sixth and best album. For unadulterated good feeling, it would be hard to beat the traditional Norwegian waltz, or mandolin player Bærentsen's polkas, with Sharon Weiss on spoons and recorder. For blue mystery, there's fiddler Jan Danielsson 's »Polska«, or the ballad »Dronning Dagmars Død«, in Danish. And for pure beauty, an instrumental medley of ancient hymns from the Faroe Islands featuring outstanding piano from Kristian Blak. (Andy Nagy, Boston Globe, USA)

 

Creative spelmen: Finally, I should point out the exotic spelmans (traditional folk band) music from the Faroe Islands. There is a whole collection of records with Spælimenninir, which sometimes performs with a larger group called Spælimenninir í Hoydølum. The band is made up of people from different countries. They play Swedish polskas and Danish hopsas as well as tunes from Shetland and Canada. But they show in many cases a fresh grasp of the music. Especially noteworthy is Kristian Blak's contribution on piano. The music is an abundant, rich mixture and it is often overwhelmingly happy. (Åke Grandell, Finland)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Kingoløg" Kristian Blak (HJF016)

Kingoløg is based on traditional Kingo-hymns from the Faroe Islands.

Most  of  the  melodies are  very  old, some  of  them  clearly  having roots  in medieval  music.  This  unique  album full   of   beautiful   haunting   melodies deserves    highest    recommendation (Alexander Ivansky, Jazz Forum, Poland)

 

This project shares with Yggdrasil LP's power that appears to come from a strong sense of cultural identity. Lasting monuments from  the land of the  Faroes.  (Kevin  Whitehead, Cadence,  USA)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Brøytingar" Kristian Blak (HJF021)

»Brøytingar«  is about  change, about the inevitability of destruction in the name of progress. It is the reason that the melodies Blak has written are tinged with a sense of wistful melancholy. (Robert Iannapllo, Cadence, USA)          .

 

Since first hearing his work some three and a half years ago, I have looked forward to each new installment from the Faroe Islands - Kristian Blak's strong, melodic mature Jazz - mixing jazz with traditional folk and taped & live sounds of wind and water, birds and beasts. It was in a state of mild shock then that I sat after my first playing of “Brøytingar “- Faroese for changes and also a play on BRØYT, the brand name of a Norwegian mechanical excavator. (Bill Grant, Trans FM, Ontario, Canada)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"De Fire Tårne" Yggdrasil (HJF019)

This installment is music  composed for the Icelandic National ballet  and it's a gem. The Four Towers is based on a poem by William Heinesen entitled »Child's Drawing”. The poem is divided into four stanzas, one each dealing with the sea, the sky, the forest and the  mountains. Blak divides  his piece accordingly and augments each section with appropriate sounds of nature (an idea he used on Ravnating). In the wrong hands, this can be cloying and gimmicky, but since Blak seems to frequently look at nature for inspiration and source material it becomes an organic and integrated part of the whole. In the forest section (»Vojavoja«) the entire group improvises with a chorus of howling wolves. It's chillingly beautiful (and creates a curious mental image in the process). Blak's music deserves a wider audience than receives. If you haven't checked out the music of this resident of the Faroe Islands, this LP is a good place to start. (Robert Iannapollo, Cadence,  USA)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Heygar og Dreygar" Kristian Blak (HJF015)

Heygar og Dreygar contains seven tracks composed by Kristian Blak. Each tune is an aural painting that conjures up unreal, fabulous creatures, dwarfs and witches living on these magical islands. In addition to the well-known reedman John Tchicai, this record features two more wonderful musicians - flutist Dalsgarð with his fresh and original folk sound and bassist Jormin, who delivers both a solid  beat  and  beautifully  melodic solos. (Alexander lvansky, Jazz Forum, Poland)

 

Heygar  og Dreygar is  on  all  accounts a grandiose album. The music is written by the gifted Faroese composer  Kristian  Blak. The  accompanying booklet includes William Heinesen's magnificient collage renditions of the preternatural creatures that inhabited  our  ancestors'  fantasy  and  the music  on  the  record,  expanding  the musical experience. The music is powerful and robust. It is jazz, with a specifically Nordic sound. The music is captivating and fascinating ... I would like  to  mention  the  electric  guitar, used  here with  admirable  discretion and, at the same time, expresiveness . . (Aarhus Stiftstidende, Denmark)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Den Yderste Ø" Yggdrasil (HJF012)

La musique de l'album est à l'image du pays, froide a l'exterieur mais brillante de vie, même dans  les passages les plus “cool”. Les musiciens accompagnent le recitant,  qui déclame des poèmes de William Heinesen. (Philippe Renault, Notes, France)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Addeq" Kristian Blak (HJF022)

The music is developed as a suite in 8 parts. Musical phenomena with which one otherwise would have not come  in contact with in our world of  mass  media are presented here. And it is done with a loyalty to the East Greenlandic motives in a serious, noncommercial endeavour. (Erik Wiedeman, Information, Denmark)

 

I received the two CDs “Ravnating” and “Addeq”. These  CD's are  both very good, especially I find “Addeq” excellent. This CD is one of the best recordings ever produced - anywhere. (Jens Guð, Iceland)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Concerto Grotto" Kristian Blak (HJF018, HJF033)

Music with depth and life. (Lars Wang, Aalborg Stiftstidende Denmark)

1986. Record poll, reviewer's choices: Kristian Blak: Concerto Grotto (Kevin Whitehead, Cadence, USA)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Antifonale" Kristian Blak (HJF020)

Blak's music always has a bright and airy quality. This can be attributed to his affinity to nature and nature themes. That sound carries over to this project. And it's that breezy quality that ultimately makes Blak's music so likable. (Robert Iannapollo, Cadence, USA)

 

Si l'écriture privilège la clarté du discours ou une précosité teinté de sensualité, elle n'emprisonne pas pour autant les solistes dans un carcan rigide. La principale force de Kristian Blak est qu'il parvienne  à contrôler le lyrisme jusqu'au point de rupture où il  pourrait sombrer dans le sentimentalisme. (Gustave Cerutti, Notes, France)

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ALBUM REVIEW

"Ravnating" Kristian Blak (HJF013)

Du jazz qui nous vient des Iles Féroé - et le moins que l'on puisse dire, c'est qu'ils font du bon travail

là-haut: belles pochettes, excellent pressage et musique superbe. Quant à la musique, elle possède la pureté cristaline des cieux balayés par les vents et on ne réstiste pas à l'élan qui nous fait planer et le vol majestesteux des grands oiseaux noirs. A noter un savoureux dialogue entre la clarinette-basse de John Tchicai et les cris d'un corbeau. A écouter en  regardant l'album et on baigne dans la felicite! 

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CONCERT REVIEW

Kristian Blak & Yggdrasil

By Antonia Lezerkoss, Südwest Press 16.03.2011

"In the frames of the "Musik in der Villa" that takes care of a lot of events, the group Yggdrasil enchanted the visitors of this sold out concert with an impressive mix between jazz, folk and experimental music", writes Antonia Lezerkoss in the Südwest Presse. Antonio Lezerkoss furhter writes: "With their all embracing repertoire of rock to jazz to classical music the group made powerfull, intense melodic phrases with spherical sound landscapes, detached from space and time, with disturbing, ethnic sound images, contemplative ballads, deep religious hymns and cheerful children songs".
Read the whole review in German here

 

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CONCERT REVIEW
Kristian Blak & Yggdrasil

By Taggblat.de 16.03.2011
At once it was as if the musicians were in an exposed place in the nature, in the cave of a mighty cliff. In the composition of Davidsen, in the E-guitar and the bass flute that brought forth an attractive elegiac rock sound, the singer seemed as if he was in the stern of a boat and intonating on the open sea.
Read the whole review in German here
 

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CONCERT REVIEW
Kristian Blak & Yggdrasil

By Schwarzwälder-Bote, Hechingen, 14.03.2011
It is always a mix of styles that touches the ear. Often people sat in the concert room and listened with closed eyes to the sound with the mystical breath, that had a meditative character. It wasn't least the rhythm, that almost all the time was in the area of from 60 to 70 beats per minute and therefore in the area of the human heart frequency was - which had a calming influence. Although the sound mix of interesting elements of folk music was influenced of extraordinary ethno-jazz , one would think he was, despite the well-ordered sound movements at the set of time, in an experimental studio for new music.
Read the whole review in German here
 

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RISASTOVA
Kristian Blak/Yggdrasil

[TUTL HJF 111] (2006)
By Michael Stone
Guitarist-singer-composer Kári Sverrisson, a startling vocalist, shares writing duties with Blak, a nimble pianist, on Risastova ("Giant's House," the name of an imposing Faroe Islands rock formation). Rounding out the octet are saxophones, violin, cello, electric guitar, bass, drums, and percussion. The music is as craggy, windswept, overcast, brooding, remote, and unforgiving as the Faroes of its origin. The closing piece, "Vágatunnilin," a moody Blak suite in five parts, was initially performed at 100 meters below sea level, to commemorate the opening of the first underwater tunnel in the Faroes, plumbing the roots of Yggdrasil itself.
 

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LIVE IN RUDOLSTADT
Kristian Blak/Yggdrasil

[TUTL HJF 99] (2004)
By Ken Hunt - The Folk Collector
Live at Rudolstadt is a work of consummate musicianship plus everything a truly great recording should be. Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk has captured the sound they made at the Tanz&FolkFest Rudolstadt 2003 beautifully. The single album is permanent testimony to two exceptional concerts, though from memory this is (mainly) from their Landestheater concert. (...). On Crabbed Age And Youth however, Blak turns Palsdottir into Shakespeare’s mouthpiece. If we dished out six stars, it would earn them for its music. Instead, for an album that deserves to make their international name, it gets only five to punish Tutl for its woeful lack of information. If this is not an album of the year, I’ll do penance with a diet of puffinburgers (in season).

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Review by Anton Kovalsky : Yggdrasil, Kristian Blak, Vera Kondrateva "Lipet El: Seven Brothers" (Link)

 

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Article Musical "Kristiania" by Anton Kovalsky (Link)

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Article Musical "Kristiania, Part 2" by Anton Kovalsky (Link)

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Article "Shine on you crazy tree!" by Anton Kovalsky (Link)

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Article «Playing classics" by Anton Kovalsky (Link)