Patrik Ahlberg. Gitarrlåtar (guitar tunes).
I first heard about Swedish multi-instrumentalist Patrick Ahlberg through his duo with Nashville/New Zealand fiddler George Jackson, and when I heard that Ahlberg had recorded an album of Swedish fiddle tunes on classical guitar – Gitarrlåtar (guitar tunes) –I was quite skeptical. Scandinavian fiddle tunes are notoriously twisty and over-wound, built for the fiddle, in my mind, because of their sinewy and fluid movements. They spin, whirl, turn, and tuck back in on themselves like the smooth rapids on a fast-flowing river. To translate them to a finger-picked guitar seemed like an tricky proposition, but Ahlberg’s managed to absolutely nail this translation. Using hammer-ons and really deft ornamentation, he spins through a whole raft of gorgeous Swedish tunes on the guitar, pulling more resonance and thoughtfulness out of the instrument than I would have thought possible. Opening track “Polska efter Monis Olle” is a great example. The halting rhythms of the tune and the intricate ornamentation and melodic runs are revelatory to anyone interested in moving beyond the Fahey-esque trappings of fingerpicked guitar. The album’s short, but endlessly listenable. I think I’m on my fifth or sixth listen and I keep hitting play again, just wanting to immerse myself one more time on the shimmer resonance of these haunting melodies on Ahlberg’s guitar. Ahlberg’s found a deep source of inspiration in matching these tunes to this instrument and you’ll come away inspired as well.