Fika (pron. ‘fee-ka’), is the latest recording from crossover ensemble Elysian Fields – beautiful music that plays and sings to the gathering of friends with food and fine conversation. The recording takes its name from the Swedish practice of fika: sitting down for coffee, conversation and pastries with friends and family.
Elysian Fields is Australia’s only electric viola da gamba ensemble, comprising arranger, artistic director and electric viola da gamba player Jenny Eriksson, with Susie Bishop (vocals, violin and arranger), Matt Keegan (saxophones, composer and producer), Matt McMahon piano and arranger, Siebe Pogson (bass guitar and composer) and Dave Goodman (drums).
Created by these stars of Australia’s jazz, classical and world music scene, Fika is a CD of music inspired by Scandinavia, deeply rooted in viola da gambist and artistic director, Jenny Eriksson’s Swedish ancestry and her love of Scandinavian jazz and folk music.
Losing some 60 professional performances to the lockdown, Eriksson made the difficult decision to dig deep and underwrite the recording project. With parallel careers in acoustic viola da gamba career and a nationally celebrated performer of French baroque music, Eriksson said that artistically and personally, this is was one the most important projects she’d ever been involved in.
Elysian Fields is uniquely well-placed to realise such a cross-hemispheric project. As well as Eriksson’s background and experience in Swedish baroque and folk music, Susie Bishop has links to Sweden via her partner and visits often. She speaks Swedish and sings all but two songs in the language. Saxophonist/composer and album producer Matt Keegan studied the saxophone in Sweden and his composition, “Cold Soul”, is inspired by the frozen landscapes of northern Europe. Finally, bass guitarist Siebe Pogson is Swedish on his mother’s side and has visited on several occasions.
Several stunning folk song arrangements by pianist Matt McMahon and Susie Bishop are complemented by Australian premiere recordings of music by Norwegian jazz pianist and composer, Jan Gunnar Hoff, and Swedish jazz greats, e.s.t.. Hoff has collaborated with the project and the nine tracks on the album opens with his piece “Living” and close with a heart-felt cover of the e.s.t. ballad, “Believe Beleft Below”.
The CD booklet features paintings by Swedish artist Nils Gunnar Zander, another friend of Jenny Eriksson’s. For 25 years Zander has divided his time between Australia and Stockholm, drawing inspiration from the landscapes of the Australian outback.
Fika is available from MOVE, Buywell Records, streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, downloads via iTunes and Bandcamp.