Musical insanity from Norway

Time for another recommendation for your listening pleasure and a wilfully obscure one it is to boot…

One of the types of music I particularly like is that which results from blending and crossing various favoured genres until you end up with something totally unclassifiable.

I suppose – if push came to shove – that today’s act would fall under the label of ‘World Music’ if you wanted to find it in a music shop or on a download site but, like all labels, it really fails to do many of the labelled justice.

Farmers Market – a really shit name if ever there was one – are a Norwegian band which started out as a free jazz quartet but have now expanded to a quintet covering accordion, sax, clarinet, guitar, other fretted instruments, bass and drums.

Førde Fredag Farmers Market-A Filetta 040 Nils-Olav Johansen – Farmers Market’s fabulous guitarist

Their second album – Musikk Fra Hybridene (Music From The Hybrides) 1997 – is probably my favourite of the four they’ve released, although they’re all very good.

The first track, ‘Les Mysteres des Guitares Grand Prix’, opens with some electric guitar that sounds like Queen’s Brian May and then takes you on a musical tour embracing snippets of songs including Abba’s ‘Waterloo’, the James Bond Theme and some manouche guitar, ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ – to name but a few of the various sections.

The later track ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ explores similar disparate pieces with the Flintstones Theme, Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘The Sabre Dance’ and ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ and somehow bizarrely but obviously the theme music from the Roald Dahl TV series, all featuring amongst a motley collection played in a variety of styles from Klezmer to Paris Torch Song and all points in between – Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ intro played on accordion anyone?

In between the many novelty pieces on the album are some very intense and inventive Balkan-style instrumentals with some real virtuoso playing which reminds me of bands like ‘Secret Chiefs Three’, Estradasphere and the like. If you know this sort of music then it should come as little surprise that the band is now signed to Mike Patton’s (the ex-Faith No More genius) Ipecac label.

Explore the album a bit more and you’ll hear tango music, jazz fusion, bluegrass and funk with echoes of people like Zappa, James Brown and the Meters and seasoned throughout with a hefty dose of humour.

In a nutshell, this album is totally fucking barking mad.

However, somehow against all the odds, it all hangs together for its whole 50 minutes although the fact that the band never dwells on any particular style or genre for too long may be the main reason for this.

Whatever, it’s a fascinating musical ride and takes you places I can almost guarantee you’ve never been before.

Whether you’ll ever want to revisit some of them is a different matter entirely…

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