MIC’s Listen to Norway series continues with Stian Carstensen’s 'Backwards into the Backwoods' album.
Stian Carstensen belongs to the elite group of musicians who never really chose music; it was music that chose them. They will never relate to music as a means of expressing something, but rather they serve to constitute the principle of music expressing music. He was educated at the Conservatoire in Trondheim specialising in jazz. There he co-founded the legendary group Farmers Marked. In Norway Farmers Marked soon became known as the epitome of musicianship and the paragon of sheer musical energy and creativity. They put a face to undomesticated, untamed pure playing; of genre-fusion and melange; a tempest of played music.
This is due to the unequalled performances of each member, but perhaps even more to the choice of repertoire and the attitude towards their expression. Fascination for, and heavy influence from, Slavic traditional music and its affinity to gipsy music has given Farmers Marked the distinct quality of utter “yeay-saying”; the unrivalled “lust-for-life” all-embracing gesture that is to be found in the fatalistically conditioned loss of control that seems to be the essential nature of the wildest music of the Balkans.
On Backwards into the Backwoods Carstensen has put together a new line-up even though the majority of contributors come from the Farmers Market sphere. The record is the spawn of two different directions Carstensen has been pursuing. One is his work with Bulgarian traditional polyphony, and the other is his love for hillbilly/ bluegrass finger pickin’ banjo music. On Backwards into the Backwoods he puts out the energetic fusion of the Carpathian and the Appalachian way of expression through music, which is also an expression of his own experience of life.