Album title: Live at Tou
Release date: 7 May 2021
Label: Hudson Records
In what is likely to be a world first, highly acclaimed musicians from the Slovakian Roma music community and the Norwegian contemporary music scene – specifically Kitchen Orchestra – have come together to create exciting, ingenious, improvised music drawing directly from, or inspired by, traditional Roma folk tunes.
In 2016, members of Kitchen Orchestra partnered with a group of Slovak musicians to explore the fusion of an ethnic tradition – the ancient migratory songs of the Roma diaspora – with the inventiveness of contemporary, experimental music – here represented by Norwegian improvised music. Phuterdo Øre, now renamed as Angrusori, was born. Live at Tou is Angrusori’s debut release on the esteemed British label, Hudson Records.
At the helm of this Slovak-Norwegian orchestra is acclaimed Norwegian composer and organist, Nils Henrik Asheim and Czech avant-garde violinist, singer, and composer Iva Bittová who, after hours of collaborative work with Slovak and Norwegian musicians, have beautifully reinterpreted and reworked the traditional music with more contemporary aesthetics and techniques.
In turn, the team of composers and musicians worked with researcher Jana Belišová who has spent many years working with the Roma population in Slovakia, collecting and documenting songs rarely heard outside the Slovakian countryside.
This album offers a collection of these songs in a remoulded and repackaged format, inviting both old and new listeners of Roma music, and appealing to diverse audiences within and outside the Slovakian vernacular. These are songs from an otherwise secluded society, songs usually shared in people’s homes and kitchens. They are songs telling stories of a different European reality, encompassing experiences of social segregation, abject poverty and ill health, or love, jealousy and loss – stories of specific and universal human tragedies, which nevertheless bear within them enduring qualities of resilience and togetherness.
For the listener, what results from this unusual and courageous attempt to bring together two very different musical and experiential worlds, is an aesthetic-emotional richness resonant of life itself. It is music that seeks to give renewed hope for our shared and interdependent humanity, through its ability to cross borders.