Music from the other side of the room

What would happen if the music combined Swedish Folk, Pop, and Jazz music? Well, believe me those combinations could work and it does from the mind of Trallskogen. It’s one of Annika’s projects they they’ve released their debut album this year. And if you love those three genres, you’re in for a real treat.

The origins of Trallskogen started back while Annika was visiting the “Scenska Visarkivet” in Stockholm. She discovered old recordings of the singers who moved back from village to village and sang festivities and told stories. Discovering this fascinating idea, Annika came up with an idea. She would not only combined the trail songs, but mix folklore along with pop and jazz.

Annika Jonsson lives and works in Saarbrucken, Germany. She grew up with German-Swedish parents in Boppard, Germany and she completed her studies in Mathematics in Kaiserslauten before studying Jazz in Saarbrucken from 2011 to 2016 at the Saar Academy of Music with Anne Czichowsky. Her final project during that time frame, she went to Sweden to search for her musical roots. And one of the projects would be Trallskogen. And their debut album, Trollskogen is released on Annika’s new label, Nikasound.

Listening to this album, will make you go back and pull out some of the Swedish bands/artists that were part of the Silence label in the golden era of the 1970s in its early years. But Trallskogen’s music is like looking through an old storybook and revisiting those tales that you were told as a child and revisiting its fantasy side. The band considers Steffen Lang on Guitar, Martin Jager on Piano, Felix Hubert on Double Bass, and Kevin Nasshan on Drums.

The eerie opening musique-concrete on Intro (Have tar, Havet ger), starts with Martin’s plucking piano strings, Felix’s foghorn sounds on double bass, Steffen’s guitar, and Kevin brushing the drums. You can hear the reverb effect on the double bass along with the delay/effect on the guitar and intensive pulse from the piano and drums that gives the listener to know that the story has just begun and the book is finally opened.

Annika comes into the forest as if she’s walking through the trees as she sings while her bandmates follow her into this new location that she brings us towards into. The music is part Ummagumma and part Thelonious Monk near the end section between Lang and Nasshan. The title-track is walking through the opened door that’s already opened for us to enjoy the party.

Its textures makes the track opening a flower that is ready to burst. Annika sings a melodic structure as if she’s singing through a scale by going upwards including a scat-singing section. Martin follows her on the piano and it’s a wonderful in the piece before Kevin’s drum solo takes front and center channeling Elvin Jones from John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.

Bergtrall is Trallskogen honoring the legacy of Vince Guaraldi. The first minute gives Martin a chance to honor the jazz musician as if they band were doing a score for another Peanuts special to see what the gang and Snoopy will come up with next. But then, it moves forward into some cliffhanger scenario as Felix does some walking tightrope lines on the double bass.

And then, out of the blue, Martin and Kevin create that moment to build up the climax more and more to raise the bars even higher. Then, it suddenly goes into a train that goes into a mid-fast tempo to create the speed for the piano, drums, and bass going into a full-scale atmosphere. Annika comes in the last minute for her vocalizations as if the forest has approaches by a ghost to give a chilling end.

With its bright, fast, and chilling momentum, it goes back into the Guaraldi section to close the composition for a few seconds. The piano on Alvdans goes into a swirl for the sun to rise. Annika’s vocals and Steffen’s stop-and-go intro on the guitar chords as the mid-fast sections are catchy while the percussion’s come up with a clicking sound through the kit on the drumsticks. The composition itself feels like it was something straight out of Jacques Demy’s 1964 classic, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but with a jazz setting.

Now Bitar, is a track I got a kick out of. Featuring the psychedelic wah-wah guitar and a soulful piano and Annika’s scatting that is almost through a Leslie speaker done in an homage to Robert Wyatt, Trallskogen show their nod to the Canterbury scene for its swirling turn for Martin paying a nod to the late great Phil Miller (Delivery, Hatfield and the North, Matching Mole, and National Health).

Before I close this review, let me just say this. Trallskogen’s debut album was not easy album to review. It’s for me a great debut I’ve listened to over about three times now. Annika has come a long way not just both in mathematics and music, but with the projects including her Pop-Jazz project of Caleido Club last year. But for me, Trallskogen would be something that will peak my interest for the years to come to see what Annika would come up with next.



DisAgreement online

Band name and cover artwork might let you expect Scandinavian black metal, but you couldn’t be any further from what this strange yet great band is offering on their debut album Trollskogen. Swedish-German singer Annika Jonsson grew up bi-lingual in Rhineland-Palatinate, and after getting her degree in mathematics, she decided to add another one in jazz singing. Last year, she released already an album with her jazz pop band Caleido Club (English lyrics) and an EP with her indie pop band Nika & Karambolage (German lyrics), and now this incredibly busy artist is back with her new band Trallskogen, changing to Swedish lyrics.

The idea for this band came to her after a visiting a museum in Sweden about travelling folk singers, known there as trall singers. Their lyrics deal with trolls, elfs, the magic of the wide Scandinavian landscapes etc., and Annika Jonsson wanted to transfer the mood of that music into a hybrid between jazz and folk music. Her band consists of a pianist, a drummer, a double bass player and an electric guitarist. Apart from the electric guitar, we get a really jazzy acoustic instrumentation. But that doesn’t mean that you should expect any standard approach to songwriting. Let’s start with the seven-minute long intro that begins very minimally. You might think that hardly anything will happen here. There are a few notes played on the piano, the double bass is played tentatively with a bow, the drums resound from somewhere in the background, and the guitarist seems to be tuning his instrument. Then, four and a half minutes into the song, Annika starts her incredible vocal performance that reminds me a little of a less arty Björk. Her vocal range is impressive, and will make sure to elevate the music to the highest levels.

The following Trollskogen is even longer at seven and a half minutes, and is also my personal highlight on the album. The guitar introduces this song, to be soon accompanied by the glass clear vocals, and then by the rest of the band, turning this into a mesmerising exercise in pop jazz folk that also flirts with progressive rock sensibilities. More than once the band’s approach reminds me of Robert Wyatt and other Canterbury greats, especially Hatfield and the North. The last one and a half minute of the track consists of a drum solo. So early into the album, this shows that these guys don’t give a damn about conventional structures. Weirdness ensues with Bergtrall which begins like a friendly piano jazz tune, but soon enough this song turns into an avant jazz monster of the most nightmarish proportions. The end of the song features some ethereal vocals, and then we’re treated by Vad nu, another long track starting with a bass solo that leads into one of the band’s most progressive tracks. It’s here where Annika’s vocals will really break your heart. This is the stuff that makes me cling to the hope that good music is still possible nowadays.

The second half of the album starts with the more upbeat Älvdans, an unusual track and at three and a half minutes the shortest piece on the album. The vocals do this scat thing together with the tingling piano, and after so much drama throughout the album’s first half, it’s really refreshing to hear the musicians having a good time. Therefore the following Han drack feels like a hammer. This song feels like a dirge, and comes with a melancholy that few artists can muster with such authenticity. Goosebumps inducing, I tell you! And back to happiness with the quirky Bitar, at four and a half minutes the second shortest track. Farväl ends the regular part of the album. This is a beautiful ballad and a fitting album to one of the best and most original albums I have heard in a very long time. The hidden bonus track Intercity Mood strays from the folk music from before, and offers a more traditional take on jazz funk.

Lately there have been some female performers that really made a stir in the music world. Myrkur’s strange brand of folk black metal may not be to everyone’s taste but is original. Anna von Hausswolff’s last album was a revelation. And now make room for Annika Jonsson, the math-music wunderkind whose forays into pop jazz may be quite traditional, but what she did here with Trallskagen is a true work of genius. It doesn’t get any better than this!


JP’s music blog, 16. October 2017

Swedish jazz band Trallskogen recently released their debut album titled “Trollskogen.” It features 9-tracks, beginning with the seven-minute “Intro” as you enter the world of this experimental band. As they feel their way around the studio in the opening track, they begin to settle down into the steady pace of the title song “Trollskogen.” While you may not understand the language within the songs, you can certain appreciate the musicianship on some of these epic tracks. They deliver the avant garde jazz of “Bergtrall” and the more up-beat feel of “Vad Nu,” which showcases the diversity in their musicianship. The wonderful vocals of Annika Jonsson is highlighted with the poetry of “Han Drak,” before Trallskogen finish their new album with the rock infused “Bitar” and the epic build-up of “Farval” along with the hidden track “Intercity Mood,” which is an energetic jazz number that you must seek out.

Neues von Annika Jonsson, der Saarbrücker Schwedin

Saarbrücker Zeitung, 20. September 2017, Stefan Uhrmacher

Rock, Pop, Jazz – das Album „Trallskogen“  kennt viele Facetten und sträubt sich erfolgreich gegen Katalogisierungen. Vor allem ist der Sängerin und Komponistin Annika Jonsson mit ihrer Band Trallskogen eine Hommage an die traditionelle Folklore von Jonssons schwedischer Heimat gelungen.

Mit jazzerprobter, elfengleicher Stimme empfiehlt sich die Wahl-Saarbrückerin, Absolventin der Hochschule für Musik Saar (HfM), als kompetente Interpretin jener typisch nordischen Trall-Gesänge, die eine Menge Tanzeslust versprühen. Ob nun klangforscherisch schräg oder melancholisch verhalten musiziert wird, ob rockiges Pathos keimt oder gar ein paar Takte waschechten Swings vorbeirauschen, Jonssons Begleiter Steffen Lang (Gitarre), Martin Jäger (Piano), Felix Hubert (Bass) und Kevin Naßhan (Schlagzeug) lassen es nicht an einer variantenreichen Illustrierung der Songs mangeln. So geht die mystische „Zauberwald“-Atmosphäre um von Jonsson besungene skurrile Wesen hier Hand in Hand mit einer in Maßen breitentauglichen Jazzrock-Note.


Kurt Edelhagens Digitale Jazz-Zeitung, 16. September 2017

Bei ihrem Besuch im ” Senska Visarkivet ” in Stockholm  ( einem Archiv ,das Noten und Audioaufnahmen der schwedischen Folkloremusik ) entdeckte die Sängerin Annika Jonsson sehr alte Aufnahmen von Trallsängern , die damals mit ihren Liedern von Dorf zu Dorf zogen , auf Festen sangen u. Geschichten erzählten. Diese Elemente der Folklore mit Jazz und Pop hat sie zu ihrem eigenen Stil von Folkjazz  mit Popeinlagen gemacht. Stücke der Elfen und Trolle im Zauberwald ( Schwedisch ” Trollskogen ” ).  Eine CD an der der Hörer nicht vorbei kommt und  die Liebe zur Musik spürt. Ihre Musik geht indie Herzen  und  sind ein besonderer Ohrenschmaus.   Die an der der  Hochschule für Musik Saar bei Anne Czichowsky ausgebildete Sängerin, har mit ihrer Band in Saarbrücken auf ihrem Label ihr Popjazz Projekt  ” Caleido Club ”  veröffentlicht und  diverse  sehr gute  überragende  Kritiken erhalten.  Mit dem zweiten Album   ” Trallskogen ” wird es genau so sein.  Sie verkörpert einen besonderen Musikgenuss,  voller Begeisterung und Musikalität.

Märchenhaftes von Bergkönigen und Trollen

Saarbrücker Zeitung, 28. Februar 2016, Autor: Stefan Uhrmacher

Skandinavischer Jazz erfreut sich großer Beliebtheit, und die an der Hochschule für Musik Saar (HfM) ausgebildete Annika Jonsson nennt in Saarbrücken bereits eine kleine Fangemeinde ihr Eigen: Wenig überraschend war somit der Ansturm zum Konzert von Jonssons Band „Trallskogen“ am Samstag im Leidinger. Hier führte die junge Sängerin gleich zur Eröffnung solistisch vor, was ein Trall ist – nämlich ein folkloristisches schwedisches Lied, bei dem sogleich der Rhythmus hineinkomponiert ist. Zwischen Folkloreelementen und Jazz, zwischen kraftvollen Grooves und lyrischem Atemholen bewegte sich der ganze Abend.

Ob Beziehungs-Thematik oder Märchenhaftes von Bergkönigen und Trollen in Zauberwäldern, Jonsson sang mal elfengleich, mal wütend und ließ ihre Stimme schon mal mittels pfiffigem Live-Sampling effektvoll zum Chor anschwellen. Ihre kompetenten HfM-Kollegen Martin Jäger (Klavier), Steffen Lang (Gitarre), Felix Hubert (Kontrabass) und Kevin Nasshan (Schlagzeug) lieferten die passenden Sounds von bombastisch bis unplugged – und so hat die geschickt zwischen Eingängigem und Exotik pendelnde Trallskogen-Mixtur das Zeug zum Mitmischen auch im überregionalen Skandi-Jazz.



Ausschnitt aus der Sendung Musikwelt auf SR2 am 25. Februar 2016


In schwedische Trollwälder zur Abschlussprüfung

Annika Jonsson ist schon eine recht bekannte Sängerin in der Saarbrücker Jazzszene. Am Montag ist ihre öffentliche Abschlussprüfung an der Musikhochschule.

Wenn die junge Sängerin Annika Jonsson nach Schweden reist, entdeckt sie Zauberwälder und eine lebendige Gesangstradition. Es ist die Heimat ihrer Mutter, ihr widmet sie nun auch am 9. Februar ihre öffentliche Bachelor-Prüfung für Jazzgesang an der Hochschule für Musik. Annika Jonsson hat ihrem Konzert den Titel „Trallskogen“ gegeben, eine Wortschöpfung und ein Wortspiel. Trall, das ist die Musik der Spielleute, die schon vor Jahrhunderten umherzogen und zum Tanz aufspielten. Hatten sie keine Geigen, ahmten sie deren Klang mit der Stimme nach, sangen Melodien ohne Text. „Walzer, vor allem Polka“, erzählt Jonsson. „Wichtig ist dann, den Puls zu halten, das ist auf Dauer relativ anstrengend, denn man hat kaum Pausen.“ Ein „Trollskogen“ ist im Schwedischen ein Zauberwald. Und in den lädt Annika Jonsson mit sechs von schwedischer Folklore inspirierten Eigenkompositionen und einem wirklich alten Trallstück.

Jonsson, die zunächst Mathematik studiert hatte und erst auf Umwegen zum Jazzgesang fand, sah schnell das Potenzial der skandinavischen Singtradition für ihre eigene Musik, die sich frei zwischen Pop, Chanson und Jazz bewegt. Gesang ohne Text gibt es auch im Jazz, „scat“ bezeichnet sinnfreie Silbenfolgen, mit denen die menschliche Stimme es den Instrumenten in der Jazzband beim Improvisieren gleichtun kann. Ein „dajada dabaduda“ kann wie ein Instrument klingen, muss aber nicht. Jonsson muss, unterstützt von einer Band aus Musikerkollegen, in ihrer Abschlussprüfung Stimm technik und Improvisationskunst unter Beweis stellen. Dabei wird sie auch Effektgeräte nutzen, um den Ausdruck ihrer oft melancholischen Lieder zu vervollkommnen. „Looper“ und „Harmonizer“ werden live mit der vornehmen Stimme der eigenwilligen Musikerin gefüttert und erschaffen Mehrstimmigkeit, einen „Chor“ oder psychedelische Klänge. Das Publikum bekommt also einiges geboten – und der Eintritt ist frei. Konzert am Montag, 9. Februar, 20 Uhr, Hochschulde für Musik Saar, Bismarckstraße 1. Begleitet wird Annika Jonsson von Martin Jäger am Piano, Steffen Lang an der Gitarre, Felix Hubert am Kontrabass und Daniel Prätzlich am Schlagzeug.


Jazz Now

Ausschnitt aus der Sendung Jazz Now auf SR2 am 1. Februar 2015