Dag og Tid

Svein Andersen,
Aftenposten 10-11-2016:

“Gjermund Larsen er ikke den eneste som har kommet opp med flotte plater i høst. To andre er brødrene Hans P. Kjorstad og Rasmus Kjorstad fra Fron med Pusinshi Ulla og Odde & Holmen (Bjørn Kåre Odde og Sivert Holmen) med debutalbumet Sumarmorgon. 

Sistnevnte representerer det tradisjonelle, og det holder mer enn nok. Førstnevnte presser derimot samspillets tradisjonelle utgangspunkt og gir musikken et råere og mer upolert uttrykk.

Her er det motstand, kraft, overraskelser og musikalsk nerve. Grepene kan virke provoserende på noen, men hvis man lytter er dette trygt innenfor tradisjonsbegrepet. De lykkes med sitt prosjekt: Å gjøre noe veldig lokalt, utvide horisonten og skape en ny klangverden.”

Thomas Blake,
Folk Radio UK 14-02-2017:

“Hans and Rasmus Kjorstad are brothers from Fron in mountainous central Norway. Both play the fiddle in the traditional style of their country.  But don’t let that fool you into expecting something musically conservative. Pusinshi Ulla is more about experimentation and exploration of a genre’s boundaries than about acquiescence to old forms. On opener Guri, the seemingly random arrangement of plucked strings recalls the melting of icicles. The scrape of the fiddle, on the very edge of tonality, has more in common with John Cale’s viola experiments than anything we’re used to hearing in traditional British music – think The Black Angel’s Death Song if it had been composed in an Arctic cave with no electricity or drugs. It’s a bracing experience, and a wonderful one.

In Så Lokka E Over Den Myra, the title becomes a chanted refrain. With the employment of the human voice, the elemental, esoteric roots of this music are teased out. The instrumentation remains on the very edge of what we are used to, and it is partly this liminal quality that makes it so exciting.

Springleik etter Iver Storodden/Svasshøle II veers closer to recognisable melodic territory: an airy dance tune followed by a more melancholic section in which the two instruments overlap and wind around each other, pitting harmony against dissonance. The conclusion is open-ended but no less satisfying for that.

Halling etter Redvald Fjellhammer (‘etter’ means ‘after’, and presumably refers to a song’s provenance) brings in a subtle Jew’s harp, adding mystery to a melody that is closer to the baroque than anything that has gone before, showing that the brothers are by no means dismissive of more classical European forms. Indeed, they are self-confessed fans of the music of J.S. Bach, and this filters through, albeit rarely.

Firetur is a brief, swaying tune with a hint of the communal dance about it and Tjorhælspringleiken begins in intricate if comparatively familiar fashion, before growing wonkier and weirder, the asymmetric spikiness almost hidden in plain sight.

Even on an album of curiosities, Filefjelleiken stands out as particularly odd, the off-kilter arrangement, the unexpected jerky percussiveness and bottom-of-a-well chanting seem to locate it somewhere in the vicinity of the Electric Prunes at their most lysergic, but shorn of cultural signifiers it comes across as something altogether more timeless, more intriguing and ambivalent.

We then get two more iterations of the previous Svasshøle theme which prove that interpretation goes hand in hand with variation, and the beautiful Melovitt, the album’s tenderest moment, on which the fiddles practically melt into one another, such is their symbiotic relationship. Lengthy album closer Som Den Gyldne Sol Frembryteronce again confounds expectations, taking in minimal modernism, long drawn out violin notes full of yearning and an arrangement that would be the envy of many modern composers and sound artists.

If you are new to Norwegian traditional music, this exquisite album is one of the most startling musical experiences you are ever likely to have. If not, then you will soon realise that the Kjorstad brothers are in the process of taking their country’s folk music in entirely new directions. Pusinshi Ulla is as fresh and vital as a morning swim in a frozen fjord.”

Stephen Graham,
Marlbank 31-10-2016:

“Folk music for inquiring minds by two conservatoire educated fiddle-playing brothers from the village of Fron in Norway, the sound tensile and severe, an ancient edge serrated with skill and by considerable craft.

The brief sound of a huddle of voices in the style known as kveding adds more of a sense of scale at one startling point that lifts the music from being an obscurely personal vision into something much more raucously interesting and plural and certainly resets your ears for the rest of the album by injecting a certain amount of drama that the fiddlers themselves in their own interplay know a good deal about in the way that they draw on each other’s artistry and knowledge of the form.

There is a slight bluesiness to some of the strings lines that might not succeed in transporting you from Norway to the Mississippi delta. But, if that is too fanciful, certainly moves a listener in the direction of travel to provide a glimpse of the heart of rural life whether in Norway or not but especially there. All this may well be an acquired taste, depending on how specialist or familiar your appetite for Norwegian folk music happens to be; for jazz-centric listeners, there is less of interest, yet there is enough here to provide food for thought and further study.”

Thomas Fahlandet,
Lira 2017:

“Två bröder från Fron har botaniserat i notböcker, inspelningar och levande tradition i norska Gudbrandsdalen och åstadkommit något av det mest märkvärdiga jag hört inom nordisk folkmusik.
Det skär, distar och skrapar. Bröderna dekonstruerar, improviserar och spelar ibland bara underskönt mjukt och vackert. Ibland distar det och skär men det finns en mening i den galenskapen. Två melodislingor går på tvärs, stapplar sig fram men tar sig i mål. Det är barockt och hypermodernt.
Första lyssningen var närmast en plåga. Andra också för det var samma sak igen, men sedan … Jag blir glad. Tänk om en Paradisask bara är fylld med den där vita, goda som är lite större än de andra? Gott i början men sedan blir det enformigt … Just så är den här plattan – INTE! En del är sött, en del är surt och en del är lakrits.
Bröderna Kjorstad har vädrat garderoberna och kanske gjort årets bästa platta redan i januari 2017.”,

“Incoming from the Norwegian label Ta:Lik a few weeks ago was “Pusinshi Ulla”, the latest album effort created by the pair of brothers that is Hans P. Kjorstad and Rasmus Kjorstad, both studying at The Norwegian State Academy Of Music. Hailing from the village of Fron and equipped with a big love for the raw aspects of the countries original Folk music the pair is not only known for their excellent fiddle skills but have done a great deal of research about the Folk tradition of their hometown and the Gudbrandsdalen area in general, tracking down names and lines along which songs have been passed down from ancient days to now. With the eleven songs to be found on this album they’re presenting what they’ve taken and inhaled from their research on and work with traditional Norwegian Folk whilst stripping away the often times romantic layers attached to the genre and present their raw and unpretentious vision and approach to the theme, both in quite eclectic sounding instrumentals like “Guri” or the more uplifting, rural and dancey “Springleik Etter Iver Storodden / Svasshøle II” as well as touching, emotional vocal tunes like “Filefjelleiken” which are fueled with ancient energy and immenseness that they provide a certain fascination even for those not familiar with any kind of Folk music at all, so this  album might be a good starting point for a longer exploration into what surely is a sonic terra incognita for many of y’all folks out there. And what’s for sure is that Norway has some quite interesting stuff to offer in this field, “Pusinshi Ulla” included.”,

“There are gradations within any genre, extending all the way from the raw and the coarse to the smooth and the sanitized, and Norwegian folk music is no exception. Positioning itself at the rustic end of the spectrum are the Kjorstad brothers, young fiddle players from the village of Fron in Gudbrandsdalen (Gudbrand Valley) who studied at The Norwegian State Academy of Music. Like any locale, Fron has undergone modernization, yet some residents live according to long-standing traditions, and it’s their stories and world that inspired the Kjorstads to record the forty-two-minute Pusinshi Ulla.

The two strip bare the album’s eleven tunes, infusing their basic shapes with urgency and energy, and in a few cases add vocals that are as raw and natural as the fiddle music itself. Intent on retaining the integrity of Norwegian folk music, the Kjorstads favour unpolished tonalities in place of the refined string sound associated with the classical European music tradition. The songs themselves aren’t recent compositions by the brothers but rather tunes played by a number of early Norwegian musicians, such as Heidal fiddlers Hans Slettmo (1825-1895) and Christian Reiremo (1804-1883), and preserved by figures such as Kristian P. Åsmundstad and Dr. Ole Mørk Sandvik.

“Guri” sees one brother’s rapid plucks paired with the bowed, vocal-like cry of the other, the music earthy and rhythmically driven. A droning quality emerges within the music that lends the material a mournful undercurrent, while a sweeter dance style emerges in “Springleik Etter Iver Storodden / Svasshøle II.” Reinforcing the chug of the fiddle melodies in “Halling Etter Redvald Fjellhammer,” its title a reference to Redvald Fjellhammer (1915–1990) from Øverbygda in SørFron (the southern part of Fron), is the rhythmic twang of what sounds like a Jaw’s harp. With the brothers chanting the words, “Så Lokka E Over Den Myra” drones with a powerful rustic insistence, the combination of vocals and strings almost hypnotic. As old as the tunes are, one imagines they could be clothed in more modern garb without much difficulty. “Filefjelleiken,” for example, grinds with a rhythmic purpose that suggests it could be translated into electronic form or even, strange as it might sound, some variation of heavy metal. 

At times suffused with longing, the tunes’ melodies tug at the heartstrings in a few places, whereas in others a light-hearted, jovial tone dominates. It’s almost impossible to imagine Pusinshi Ulla being presented in a formal conservatory hall; it’s much easier to visualize the Kjorstads serenading enraptured town residents at an old village pub. No matter how long ago it was written, a setting as rich in melody as “Melovitt” is as pleasurable to listen to today as it would have been 150 years ago.”