Wednesday, July 06, 2005
The Perfect Record, Part Two
At the risk of making it appear that my idea of a "perfect record" has to involve what one might call "rural instruments" playing instrumental dance music (which is not the case), I'm here to write about and offer up for auditory perusal another of my choices for the "perfect record" record prize, another one whith involves rural instruments playing instrumental dance music.
For me, this one dates back to the great Nordic Acoustic Dance Music craze of the late 1980's, which took place solely in my head and on my turntable, around that time - I had a bunch of favorites of this type 'round about then, and this was my favorite of all. The record in question is "The Norway Reinlander" by "Harmony Orchestra USA (a group so named, one surmises, apparently to distinguish its august members from those in the similarly named "Harmony Orchestra Sierra Leone" and "Harmony Orchestra Tasmania").
As you can see, above, the record is dated 1948, around the dawn of time for 45's, but perhaps it came out on 78 first. The leader of the group is named Alfred Almestad, perhaps the least suprising thing about a record that sounds like this. The record is, as always, posted at the gmail site linked to the left and above.
Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean.....
What a glorious noise it is. A bit like a polka, a bit like something I'd expect to hear in Germany or Switzerland (or perhaps I'm just showing off my ignorance of those countries' folks music), and played with much more gusto than a lot of albums managed over the course of 45 minutes!
I love the interplay of the various instruments here, and the way they variously complement each other - at one moment, the piano has the melody, at another run through of the same section, the violins or the accordian may be the primary instrument. There is a point near the end (about the 2:40 point) where the piano cuts through all the other instruments and can be heard playing the most basic of parts, far less of a part than it had been playing earlier, yet for that moment it is the key sound on the record. Guess I'm just strange, but I live for moments like that.
The vibrato on the violins, in particular, when they play the sustained harmonies, gives them a wonderful, emotional feeling, and the interplay of the accordion and the piano throughout reminds me of the wonderful sound of the organ/piano duets heard on the earliest Bob and Ray shows, from around the same time as this record.
But pulling this record apart doesn't do it any favors. This is celebratory, passionate music, surely reminiscent of the homeland in the title, one which causes me to think of the rural lands of northern Wisconsin that so many Nordic folks found similar to their homeland, and the home to a favorite town of mine, similarly named to part of the title of the song.
It's got a melody I can whistle or hum to myself for days on end, with not a dead moment. Although the record seems like it's going to keep going and going, with yet another performance of one of its themes, when it's over, I wish it was still going and going.
Just about the last place in the USA which I'd expect this record to be from is Oakland.