Nick Hennessey is an internationally renowned storyteller and singer who lives among the gentle hills of South Cumbria. He has performed across the world, in Japan, Canada, the United States and frequently throughout Scandinavia, in particular Finland where he has been researching the epic-singing traditions of Karelia over the last 12 years.
Vicki Swan is the UKs leading expert in the Swedish nyckelharpa* and a second-generation piper. A Royal College of Music postgraduate, she is now bringing the nyckelharpa to a wider audience in the UK with her nyckelharpa UK project. As a fluent Swedish speaker and brought up surrounded by Swedish traditions Vicki is perfectly placed to perform Swedish music. In addition to the nyckelharpa Vicki also plays the little known Swedish bagpipes and willow flute.
Jonny Dyer is a performer, arranger and composer whose outstanding technical ability, coupled with a wide-ranging musical taste has made him a tireless and forceful musical innovator. He has become critically renown for his contemporary interpretations of traditional song. He also plays bouzouki, accordion and kohorn. He is probably the UK’s leading exponent of this ancient Viking instrument.
Review by Dave Beeby
It was a Saturday morning and my wife had gone to the local supermarket leaving me my normal list of household chores to do. For what I thought was going to be background music, The Whispering Road by Seriouskitchen was placed in the CD player. From the opening notes of a strange wind instrument and the haunting vocals asking to “seek me, find me, come to me”, I realised this was something different.
Seriouskitchen have been developing this work for a number of years and via a number of performances, before they thought it ready to record for posterity. It is basically two stories from Sweden and Norway, joined seamlessly together with music written in the style of Scandinavian traditional song.
The stories are told by well-known storyteller, Nick Hennessey, who uses all his skill from years working in the oral tradition. The style is akin to poetry, as every word is there for a purpose (change of pace and volume, strong adjectives, repetition) to make this story come to life. For me, it the use of silence that is really special.
Vicki Swan plays nyckelharpa, and Swedish bagpipes - who knew they existed - as well as being fluent in that language. It is her voice that provides the haunting songs here, whilst Jonny Dyer plays lots of stringed things. He is also responsible for the wind instrument mentioned earlier which turns out to be the ancient Viking instrument, the Kohorn.
No spoilers here, but The Whispering Road is about a ring (not the same one as Tolkein’s, but equally as epic), a prince on a quest, and trolls, with lots of other elements on the way.
Before hearing this offering from Seriouskitchen, I would have doubted that a story in the oral tradition would have worked on CD. This has completely changed my mind. It benefits from repeated listening and some tracks are good enough to stand alone. Doug Bailey at Wildgoose has done a great job in capturing the feel and the clarity of this recording. At all times the voice is brought right to the front, whilst the instruments are just at the right level. I really hope to see a live performance of The Whispering Road soon because I am sure it will be something special.
I urge you to spend 70 minutes listening to what is an unusual CD. I did. My jobs had to wait. They got done eventually.
This product was added to our catalog on Monday 22 August, 2016.