Østerlide is the Norwegian trio of folk vocalist Liv Ulvik, known from the á capella folk trio Eplemøya Songlag, guitarist-rubab player Andreas Haddeland and percussionist Ulrik Ibsen Thorsrud (who also plays in Haddeland Trio), offering fresh arrangements to timeless songs, stories, and melodies from the rich Norwegian folk music, and suggesting how this centuries-old folk tradition is vivid and evolving. Kilden is the sophomore second album of the trio, following the self-titled album from 2020.
The seven traditional folk songs are sung in Norwegian (but there is a short description in English about each song in the booklet) and Østerlide explores these blood-drenched stories from the darkest Middle Ages about miracles and ghosts, love and deep longing for Heaven, as well as the timeless folk melodies that have been shaped and honed through the centuries as nuanced sonic meditations. Ulvik’s warm and crystal-clear soprano vocal serenades the dramatic and suggestive stories, ornamented by the untimely and imaginative playing of Haddeland on acoustic and electric guitars and the Afghan lute rubab and the sparse percussive playing of Thorsrud, both adding exotic Eastern, country blues and ambient aroma.
Kilden – the source in Norwegian, a symbol of Jesus – is titled after a religious folk tune, and tells about the musical heritage of the Haugean movement, a Christian Pietist movement that emphasized the personal relation to God. They performed home services, where singing played an important part. Their singing style was slow, sincere, and rich in ornaments. The humble, reverent spirit of this beautiful title song reflects the atmosphere of the whole album. The last song, the 17-minute «Harpo» tells about one sister who pushes her other sister into the river out of jealousy. She wants her sister’s fiancé, and to take her place at the wedding that will take place the following day. When the dead sister’s body is found by traveling pilgrims, she turns into a harp who sings the truth. The pilgrims bring the harp to the wedding, and the evil sister’s deed is revealed. This haunting, dramatic medieval ballad is arranged as an unsettling soundscape that patiently gains more power and volume.
Østerlide patiently reshapes these emotional, haunting songs and stories as offering timeless wisdom and insights into Norwegian culture and heritage.
Liv Ulvik (vocals), Andreas Haddeland (guitars, rubab), Ulrik Ibsen Thorsrud (percussion)