Kari Tauring and Huldre – Live at the Capri

Kari Tauring and Huldre – Live at the Capri

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Some music is best experienced live. There is something about the energy of a live performance that could never be captured in the sterile atmosphere of a studio. There is another dimension added to the personality of the music, the personality of the performer. In Kari Tauring’s case, the live venue allows her to weave tales within the already woven rhythms, which is after all, what her songs are about. Stories, myths, magic and power are all found within this 40 minute performance recorded at The Capri in Minneapolis on September 17, 2009. That Kari’s stage presence is authentically her, that is to say, very friendly and open, makes this performance that much richer, and you even learn a little about Norse mythology along the way.

The concert opens with “Lokkr,” an “improvised calling or enticing song.” Singing in Norwegian and then in English over a sustained drone and ghostly bells, Kari’s voice recalls the vocal gymnastics of Cocteau Twin’s Liz Fraser. Electronic distortions add to the otherworldly atmosphere. Lest the audience float away, Kari and her partner Drew Miller ground and deliver the invitation to “Komme Alle.” Inviting people to come up on the stage, a male/female round is created with the Stav, or clicking and pounding sticks. It’s welcoming and entrancing.

Moving into story mode, Kari tells the tale of the Volva, or staff carrier as introduction to “Voluspakariola,” a bass line and glitchy modern recital of selected verses of a 13th century poem. Clicks and shakes provide percussion as Kari’s voice is electronically distorted into an almost insectoid pitch. Toward the end of the song she shifts from Norwegian to English to chant “Spell caster, magic worker, wise speaker, mind shaper.” It’s at once ancient, shamanic, and modern.

“So one of the things that a Volva must know is how to communicate with the various creatures like the huldre…the fairy folk with the cow’s tails,” Kari explains about “Lita Bla,” accompanied by her PVC willow flute and a snaking bass line. The rhyming and rolling lyrics, again shifting linguistically, swish like cow’s tails and again evoke Fraser or Ekova’s Deirdre. It’s haunting and beautiful.

And along comes “Oppi Li” to lighten the mood. It’s a yodeling knee slapper that will have you smiling and tapping your feet. It’s a traditional song with a verse that Kari added for fun. She moves from that into telling the story of another Huldre song, “Kari og Mari” over Drew’s dulcimer. But yet again, it is the vocals that take center stage, this time with a little Sinead sass.

A spinning guitar accompanies “Dromte” a song about a spinning woman recalling a dream. This song is mostly in English and has a medieval feel reminiscent of some of Loreena Mckennitt’s work. Chanting the directions, “Austri, Vestri, Sudri, Nordri,” to the point of distortion, creates the illusion of spinning. Kari’s closing story of “Farewell Old Spinning Wheel” and the song itself carries the hope and sorrow of the immigrant era from which it came and is as delicate as it is strong.

Some music is best experienced live. The magic and spirit and fire from which it is forged felt in every note, every word. Unfortunately for every Fraser, Sinead, or McKennitt there are lesser known but equally as talented vocalists such as Kari Tauring. Fortunately, recordings such as Live at the Capri are able to capture the blend of ancient and modern shamanistic fun that is one of Kari and Drew’s performances for a wider audience. If you are into old and looking for something new, never fear, your quest is at an end.


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