Not one but two great Scandinavian finds form the backbone of the wonderful Frederiksberg‘s latest offerings. Take your pick from Swede Karin Liungman‘s fabulous under the radar 1989 opus, I Denna Magiska Tid... with its multi-genre’d, pop-friendly approach, or Dane Ole Knudsen‘s 1992 folk-funk fry-up, Det Handler Om Kærlighed. They’re both charming, quietly confident – unfolding the years with a freshness and a vitality that remains present in spades.
Knudsen’s warm concoctions will appeal if you’ve been picking up, say, the Guy Maxwell reissue on Growing Bin or the recent Norma Tanega round-up. Its lithe, silvery music-making: acoustic guitars, hand percussion and elastic basslines on Alene Igen, for example. There’s a naivety at play here, an unforced joy in the small pleasures of creation – friends with instruments kicking back and having fun.
Stynede Pile has an underlying melancholy: strummed chords, cute electric guitar licks – the spirit of Paddy McAloon shipped over the seas to Scandinavia – lower case pop music for introverted dancers and shaky late night drinkers.
Weekend is a jaunty paean to the lure of those two free-standing days: a sax joins the fray for a mellow blow through the register, nostalgia seeping through, the memories of teenage years recalled in later years tranquility.
Slingrevejen slips a touch of funk into the proceedings via a stalking bassline and a solid break from the drummer: again some neatly judged electric guitar flourishes add the spices to the brew. Harmonious vocal work providing the finishing touch to a little three minute masterpiece.
It may take you a few spins to get bedded in to Ole’s low-key delights, but once you’re in this is an album that rewards your time and input. It’s a peaceful glide through well-trodden pastures, given a Scandinavian twist that marries the warm tones to an acceptance of life’s heartbreaking vagaries. Its essentially timeless, soul-stirring stuff: wholeheartedly recommended.
I was so taken with this archival offering from Ole that I asked Frederiksberg Records founder, Andreas Vingaard, how he came to license the Danish obscurity….
“When I first came across Ole Knudsen, I actually didn’t think I wanted to reissue it. I was introduced to the record when a friend, JG from Fire House and Fyraftensboogie, helped the estate of the music critic Lars Villemoes by selling his record collection. Villemoes had never sold off any part of his collection. He had kept records that most people wouldn’t think of as desirable, including a lot of promos that he`d been sent over the years. One of them was Ole Knudsen’s “Det Handler Om Kærlighed”. I don’t think many people knew about it outside of Knudsen’s circle before that. I certainly didn’t.
Something about the record piqued my curiosity and I decided to locate the engineer, Steen Christensen, who it turned out had held on to the original DAT-master. That made the remastering much much easier. Eventually, I located Knudsen’s daughter and made a deal with her. The crowd favourite on the album is “Slingrevejen”. It has become a bit of cult track among Danish record collectors. I would call it folk-funk in lack of a better term, I can’t think of too many other Danish tracks with that kind of sound. What always confused me personally is that this album is from 1992. However it sounds like it was recorded many years before.
I reached out to two of Knudsen’s friends from the band Fujara who helped me tell Knudsen’s story. The three of them had played music together for decades. Knudsen originally started out as a drummer and by the time they formed Fujara in 1970, he had learned to play guitar, sing and write songs. He became a music teacher and kept recording with different groups. This particular album was his last. He only ever made two albums under his own name.
I always appreciate the stuff you learn putting these projects together. I grew a stronger connection to the album after learning the back story. In fact, that’s why I started the label, to be able to combine my passion for music and telling stories.”
Ole Knudsen`s Det Handler Om Kærlighed is out now, on Frederiksberg Records.
Veteran music scribe and producer, Cal Gibson, is also an experienced broadcaster, currently in search of a regular radio slot. If anyone has an opening, please get in touch.