Jonas Hellborg: Miklagaard





The Word (Axiom 162 539 898-2)

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Jonas Hellborg (bass), Tony Williams (drums),

Soldier String Quartet: Laura Seaton, David Soldier (violins), Ron Lawrence (viola), Mary Wooten (cello)


Composed by Jonas Hellborg


Recorded: 1991


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

I sometimes wonder about a song's title. Does it have hidden meaning? I found that Miklagaard, most often spelled with one less "a," was an ancient name for Istanbul. Is that all there is to the title? Wait. We are in the Internet age. Why don't I just ask Jonas Hellborg, the man who named the song? So I did. His response was, "Miklagaard was the Viking name for Istanbul. They laid siege and tried to take over but finally made a deal with the Sultan and instead became mercenaries for him." Sometimes a title really is what it says.

"Miklagaard" is an insistent dirge. It is structurally similar to several pieces that would appear later on Ginger Baker's Unseen Rain, to which Hellborg was a major contributor. Hellborg seems to play rhythm and a Middle Eastern-tinged melody simultaneously. It is quite hypnotic. Tony Williams sounds great serving as the linchpin for Hellborg and the occasional well-placed riff from the Soldier String Quartet. You could listen to this drummer and bassist for hours on end, and they would never run out of ideas. Their interplay will put you into a serious trance. When you snap out of it, you may just find yourself in Miklagaard.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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