Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Band: Strømmen

December 29, 2020

Water Music

Listening Post 284. In poetry and prose, flowing water is a common metaphor for life and history, constancy and destiny. But there’s nothing common about Strømmen (The Current), which meanders with calm majesty through timeless landscapes. Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard are a lyricist-composer couple (in art and life), she a nightingale of club and concert hall, he a virtuoso fiddler, together peerless navigators and innovators of Denmark’s folk music tradition. Though they have collaborated on previous albums, Strømmen is their first under joint billing and it sails the centuries, from songs with roots 250 years deep to the freshly minted. The 12 tracks cover a range of human experience, always accompanied by water in some form—river, fjord, ice and snow, tears and dew—and they carry an undercurrent of mystery. The journey begins with the tranquil Over havet (On the Water, video 1), where two souls meet under drops of moonlight; and time stands still in the “feathery summer air” of Stranden (On the Beach, video 2). Blum’s voice bathes grief with consummate grace in Så mange forskellige hænder (Many are the Hands, video 3), “guided by the hope … that those we knew and loved will hear the silent call.” Joy takes another turn in En yndig og frydefuld sommertid (Summer Beauty and Delight, video 4); while beyond the lyric stream, instrumental tracks like Den hvide hjort (The White Deer) and Den første sne – den sidste vinter (First Snow – Final Winter) allow extra space for the band’s strings and percussion to shine (video 5). The mystery? Deft execution of a metaphor can’t fully explain the album’s power. Maybe it’s our times: A serendipitous confluence of musical solace and existential need. Maybe it’s biology: Strømmen enchants the whole body, 60 percent water, flowing beyond the poetic layer to the organic, opening a channel between imagination and heart. (Pile House Records/Galileo)

Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Band: Strømmen
Helene Blum: Lead vocals, fiddle, piano
Harald Haugaard: Fiddle, backing vocals
Kirstine Elise Pedersen: Cello
Mikkel Grue: Guitars, backing vocals
Sune Rahbek: Percussion, backing vocals
Mattias Pérez: Guitars

Rasmus Zeeberg: Guitars
Tapani Varis: Double bass, jews harp
Mathæus Bech: Double bass

Related Post. Helene Blum: Dråber af tid, Listening Post 113, August 27, 2017.

Helene Blum: Dråber af tid


Over havet / On the Water
Lyrics: From Thøger Larsen’s poem “Høstnatromance”/Music: Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard

(From the Danish lyrics)
Dripping oars get a lone boat to shore/
drops of moonlight
shining like the tears of gold/that goddess Freyja might have cried

A falling star shoots through the night/Will Artemis come killing?
Will Cupid’s arrow be wounding?/The oars now down, we spoke the words.

Wanting, kissing, and smiling made
a meeting of two souls.


Stranden / On the Beach
Lyrics: Gorm Skouboe-Svendsen/Music: Harald Haugaard

Feathery summer air/brushes an emerald sea
As you emerge from the water/your hair of gold is filled/with salty beads
The sun will never set/on this unending summer
It’s you and me/and blue that goes on forever


Så mange forskellige hænder / Many are the Hands
Lyrics & music: Helene Blum

Many are the hands/guided by a hope we share
that those we knew and loved/will hear the silent call

Many are the hands/reaching for a light we share
as a friend, a child/lights a flame in memory

Soon, the snow will fall/to blanket a loved one’s grave –
a shimmering cover of crystalline ice/above dark waters of death

Today we scatter upon your heart/drops of solace from the grief
we wake and welcome here/under the wings of tears

Icy nights and a wind suffusing/the name of the beloved –
some would say: let go, turn around/but maybe the word is “come”

Come let the sorrow live/in weeping and in singing
Honor the pain and the loss in your heart/honor the longing that has no home


En yndig og frydefuld sommertid / Summer Beauty and Delight
Lyrics: Trad. from Dalby-Neder “Kærlighedsrosen”/Music: Trad. & Harald Haugaard

Summertime, with glory and cheer/in all its beauty grants
solace and joy to many a soul/all through a love divine
With flowers in a rich array/it lets you see once more
the red, and sweet, and lovely rose

Among these flowers, one I know/to shine above them all –
it grows, exquisite, on a branch/that graces a lovely tree
In beauty, many roses bloom/but I will say, in truth
he is the best of all

If I could only be so blessed/to have this rose be mine
The burning in my heart is but/a yearning deep and strong –
there’s joy when he’s within my sight/but endless love in me provides
no respite and no rest

Wherever I may go each day/no matter here or there
I keep you always in my mind/and ever through the night
And as I sleep in peaceful rest/I dream of you in sweet delight
to fancy you here by my side


Den hvide hjort / The White Deer
Music: Harald Haugaard
Den første sne – den sidste vinter / First Snow – Final Winter
Music: Harald Haugaard



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