forget kindling: lumber
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Félix Lajkó - "Etno Camp". What kind of drums are these? A racket of drums. What kind of horns? A tuba. What kind of fiddle? A firestarter, a sparkspitter, a flint, a tinderbox, a live flame. Lajkó Félix and his band play for fourteen minutes and while at first they are sustained by surprise - the forthright beauty of the theme, the thrill of the harmony, the brownbottle brassworks, the rattle-thump of drums, the glimmering-glong of dulcimer, - soon these things fall away and there's just the sustained marvel of their performances, their spirits, the way their heels kick up fireflies and their instruments are generators. Fire, flame everywhere - flashing in the dusk and the dark, setting the heavy velvet curtains alight. People talk of eastern European music, of hungarian folk music, of gypsy music - they talk about it in hallowed tones, like it's always brilliant, always moving, always great. It's not. But this is. It's wounded and joyous, it's startling and unflinching. It's breathless, guys, grounded in dance but doing other things too - a moment that recalls a Bach violin sonata, another where Lajkó shreds his violin to pieces (and then makes it whole again). Round and round it goes - and how do you dance? No line-dancing here, no rehearsed moves. You stomp and shove and reel and gasp and take your partner in your whole arms (not just by the hands, not lightly round the waist: with your whole arms), and you kiss her him them on the lips, sudden and fierce, so hard that your teeth click together and in the hall they spark. A white spark in every mouth, sweat down every back, shoes that are pieces of leather tied together with thread. A band on the stage that squeezes ten years of life into fourteen minutes of feeling.

Like I said: Yugoslavian born, mostly based in Budapest. He goes through labels like he goes through violin strings. The owner of a record shop in Pest told us about how they played a big gig and the power went out and the band kept going, for an hour, more. The light had to come from somewhere.

[more info (I cannot find an online source for this cd.)]

Christian Kjellvander - "Alleluia". It's easy for a man with an acoustic guitar to record a warm song. "Alleluia" isn't just warm - it's at first the easiest sort of warm. The way Kjellvander emphasises the beginning of each line, withdraws toward the end. The way his voice is only slightly burred, only slightly twanged, the way it recalls Damien Jurado and Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. So the reason I love this song isn't its warmth: such warmth is almost effortlessly achieved. The reason I love it is the little distance it travels in the chorus. A chill comes to the room, suddenly. Something strange and icy, but still sweet. A spectral voice, theremin, prayer. Recalling Leonard Cohen not only in the lyric - but in the moment where Kjellvander submits to the immanent. It's a song that acknowledges something bigger than a song.

[more info / buy Cowboys In Scandinavia: The New Folk Sounds From Northern Europe]


Good Weather for Airstrikes has done something beautiful and absurd, writing up his 65 favourite music videos of 2005. He's having some problems with hosting, but essentially all but 2 of the videos are also available to download. Remarkable.

Said the Gramophone recently wrote about Peter Case's track on the new John Fahey tribute. In some pleasing symmetry, Songs:Illinois has a few songs from the upcoming Peter Case tribute album.

Oh, and any Scots who have missed it: It seems Silver Jews will be playing Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of Triptych in April. (Also London.) Yee-haw!

Posted by Sean at January 20, 2006 3:00 AM

yeeha indeed the silver jews are rockin along to this shoreline and i will be seeing them here in edinbuggers they are one of the best bands around!!!

Posted by countrygrrl at January 20, 2006 5:12 PM

Re: Lajko - Holy crap!!!

Posted by Akio at January 20, 2006 7:14 PM

Thanks for "Etno Camp," amazing stuff. I'll have to investigate further.

Posted by winstonLT5 at January 21, 2006 9:54 AM

how emotive this wonderful music is... really thanks for this post!

Posted by Hedvika at January 21, 2006 10:46 AM

Yeah thanks for the post.

Posted by Musicisnotdead at January 21, 2006 2:01 PM

Music Videos - great idea but most links broken now (probably bandwidth issues).

Posted by jbelkin at January 21, 2006 2:33 PM

Wonderful post.

Posted by Matt at January 21, 2006 5:38 PM

That Lajko track is amazing. Thanks for posting it!.

Posted by Stove at January 22, 2006 4:43 AM

just wanna add my voice to the praise for the Felix Lajko. really, really bloody amazing, thank you for the post.

Posted by zz at January 22, 2006 6:58 AM

Felix- holy crap. And only 14 minutes. I've just played it 4 times in a row.

Any chance you could post the cd details- title, year, barcode no., etc.? (Or even the shop address- a friend travels there shortly.) I know you said it wasn't online, but the details could be useful all the same. For something that good I won't rest until I have it all in my grubby little paws.
Thanks for it. It made my sunday (which is saying something for a day on which I listened to all of Paul Metzger's '3 improvisations for modified banjo while walking the dog- bliss).

Posted by Robert P at January 22, 2006 3:34 PM

That's '3 Improvisations for Modified Banjo' while walking the dog, rather than '3 Improvisations for Modified Banjo While Walking the Dog.' :-)

Posted by Robert P at January 22, 2006 3:38 PM

Robert P - It's this CD. Your friend can probably find it in Budapest, but I was told my people at a recordshop there that since Lajko's so temperamental, he's constantly being kicked off of labels and so his back-catalog can be hard to find. That CD has been unavailable on Amazon for 4 or 5 years now.

Posted by Sean at January 22, 2006 3:39 PM

Thanks Sean. I'll persevere- I've a feeling it'll be worth it.
(Bloody temperamental artists, eh? Heh.)

Posted by Robert P at January 22, 2006 4:18 PM

I've been reading this site for two years, and in that two years, a better MP3 than Etno Camp has never been posted. My GOD, that is a triumphant composition/performance. I've probably listened to it 50 times in the past three days. Fucking beautiful.

Posted by Paul at January 24, 2006 2:35 PM

Yes, this Etno Camp MP3 has changed my life.

Posted by Colleen at January 24, 2006 4:24 PM


Since people might be interested - although I do not speak Hungarian or any other Eastern European tongue, I SUSPECT that the words "Etno Camp" might actually be English. That is, "Etno" is often used to describe folky or "ethno" music in non-anglo countries. And "Etno Camp" would be a place you go to play etno music. But I'm not really sure. But when I google those words there's clearly evidence that "etno camps" occur. So now I just need to find a way to go listen in on one.

Posted by Sean at January 24, 2006 4:44 PM

Christian Kjellvander : what a beautiful song!

Posted by Brian at January 24, 2006 7:00 PM

i've only just listened to etno camp and WOAH

thank you!

Posted by emily at January 25, 2006 11:00 AM


The Lajko Felix CD is a personal all time favourite. I got my copy from but it is out of stock.

I'm told is good for this area of music - haven't tried them myself though!

Posted by U Cheese at January 26, 2006 9:47 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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