Stórsveit Nix Noltes, Orkídeur Hawaí (Bubblecore, 2005)

Scenes for Balkan folk music have developed in a lot of places well outside of the Balkan region. As I've mentioned before, the Balkan scene in New York City is particularly strong. The CD Orkídeur Hawaí, by the band Stórsveit Nix Noltes, indicates that a vibrant scene for Balkan music exists as well in the extraordinarily unlikely location of Reykjavik, Iceland. Despite their extreme northern location, the band plays mostly traditional Bulgarian instrumentals on the CD, throwing in one Greek tune and an Eastern European klezmer piece for good measure. Like Balkan instrumental tunes in general, the pieces on Orkídeur Hawaí are characterized by lively tempos, minor keys, and complex rhythms. While certainly not mellow by normal standards, Stórsveit Nix Noltes actually do sound a bit restrained in comparison to the Brooklyn-based Balkan bands like Romashka and Luminescent Orchestrii. Their sound is a bit more guitar-oriented than most of the Balkan music I've heard -- three of the band' nine members are guitarists -- but the style is immediately recognizable, and the accordion, violin, and trumpet all get a fair share of attention. On the whole, I found this CD to be a fun offering, comparing well with what I've heard locally. People who like the kind of music played at Golden Festival in Inwood on the northern tip of Manhattan every January will find this worth their while.

Overall grade: B

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