Kjell Braaten started his search for the origin of music in the mid-nineties. Around the turn of the millennium, his focus shifted in the direction of Norse music traditions and their roots. From this, the band Ehwaz came to life and later, Kjell participated in numerous projects that draw inspiration from the ancient music of the North. In the last twenty years, his primary focus has been Norse Music, both musically and through his lectures on old Norse music history. Kjell Braaten is also known for taking part in the acclaimed Norse music pioneers Wardruna as a percussionist, though his solo music is notably different.
The title of Kjell’s latest album, Ferd means “journey”, “travel”, and “to explore”. The album’s primary focus is to honour those who travelled the world, thus expanding knowledge and facilitating cultural exchange. This aspect is highlighted through working with music in a historical sense, as most of the travelers’ instruments were brought back from far away cultures – bringing with them musical inspiration as well. The inspiration is drawn from a wide range of sounds from all over the world, particularly from North Africa, America, and the East. The lead single “Østavind” is an old Norwegian term for the wind that blows from east, about which Kjell comments,
“I use the word in the expanded sense, pointing at the fact that much of our culture (as many musical instruments) was brought back from the far east. It is a hymn to those who travelled there, but also to those who came here. There is endless evidence of how vital part this trade has played in Scandinavia’s cultural development. To underline the cultural exchange, I have used only instruments based on accepted finds from around Scandinavia, some with its origin in the middle east. The rhythms and scales used in this composition are from both cultures.”
Kjell Braaten has spent much time in Scandinavian nature and ancient sites when working on these songs, contemplating and trying to connect with them on an esoteric level; to gain inspiration. As we know too little to properly recreate ancient Scandinavian music, Kjell made modern music with inspiration from the past. By combining ancient Scandinavian sounds with sounds from where the instruments originate, he attempts to reconstruct sounds that speak to the people living now.
Ferd started out as a collection of pieces initially composed for short movies, documentaries and plays, performed on old Norse instruments. It soon evolved far beyond that. Reworked with the help of talented fellow Nordic musicians and brought together to give life to Ferd, the songs unveil a great journey with a common focus, while still telling each their own stories. Kjell invited visual artists to illustrate each song of the album, which you can find in the extensive booklet together with their corresponding stories.
Kjell concludes, “I have found my own sound, but my quest is always to evolve, learn more, and reach further. I don’t think I will ever think my search is over, as there is an endless ocean of new possibilities and sounds out there to explore.”…”new thoughts, new views, new searches.”