The Sunday Times, January 25th, 2009
“With its ornate curves and multiple strings and keys, the Swedish nyckelharpa makes Jimmy Page's double-necked guitar look like a ukulele. Griselda Sanderson tames the unwieldy beast and delivers enthralling performances that roam all the way from the Celtic fringes to Africa and the gypsy camps of the Balkans.”
(Harpaphonics was listed as no. 5 in the top 10 world music releases of 2009 in The Sunday Times chart list, December 2009.)
Rock’n’Reel, March 2009
"Experimentation, variation and eclecticism are the key words. Griselda Sanderson brings it together beautifully. And you can still dance to it!"
Late Junction, BBC Radio 3, February 13th 2009
“This album is truly mesmerising and addictive!”
The Guardian, Friday 23 January 2009
“Harpaphonics is neither overly esoteric nor overcomplicated: the album is pleasingly diverse”
fRoots & Netrhythms, Jan/Feb 2008
“On Harpaphonics, Gris ingeniously incorporates the nyckelharpa's many and special sounds into an impressive array of settings, moods and textures. I too swiftly became addicted to the fabulous sound of the nyckelharpa itself, finding it hard to prise this brave, enchanting and most rewarding disc from the player.”
Scotland on Sunday, 15 February 2009
Like a hurdy gurdy played with a bow, the 16-string nyckelharpa is a traditional keyed fiddle, little heard outside its native Sweden. Scottish instrumentalist, sound artist and musicologist Gris Sanderson makes it the focus of her latest imaginative ensemble, and creates a brave new music derived in part from the traditional sounds of Scotland, Sweden and West Africa. Unusual tunings, fingered strings, slaps and dynamic changes add to the already vast sonic armoury (sheep in 'Treadlightly'!) in this rich and varied album.
Songlines, March 2009
"The album opens with a beautiful solo… The dreamy ensemble sound of Irime is outstanding…Harpaphonics pulls all the right strings”.
Fatea Magazine, February 2009
“A fascinating album, that enchants as it weaves it's spell.”
David Kidman, NetRhythms.co.uk, November 2008
"In 1989 Griselda formed Waulk Elektrik, which for almost ten years provided an eclectic and pioneering meeting-point for traditional Scottish and Irish dance and 90s rave culture. A little after the eventual demise of that band she encountered the nyckelharpa, a strikingly individual (if perhaps mildly unwieldy-looking) stringed instrument of Swedish origin which is currently enjoying something of a renaissance among enterprising folk musicians (newer bands such as Bellevue Rendezvous are eagerly taking up its multifarious challenges). Usually bowed, it has four playing strings (one being a drone), with twelve sympathetic strings and thirty-seven chromatic keys attached to three rows of wooden tangents - and a range of three-and-a-half octaves!
Gris instantly fell in love with its mesmerising sound, and ever since finally acquiring one (just three years ago) she's been eagerly exploring its myriad of sonic possibilities (e.g. by plucking or strumming the strings or using the bow or keys for percussive effects). On Harpaphonics, Gris ingeniously incorporates the nyckelharpa's many and special sounds into an impressive array of settings, moods and textures. While selectively adding violin, viola, fiddle, chanter, piano and Hammond organ to her own armoury, Gris is further aided in her endeavours principally by James Dumbelton and Sam Yeboah on assorted percussion, with occasional contributions from other musicians including Louis Bingham, Toby Morgan, Alex Roth and Steve Turner.
Gris first introduces us to the nyckelharpa's strange and beautiful resonances by performing Exordium entirely solo: this is a prelude which evokes both the antique ambiences of early music and the florid flusters of Bach and Paganini. From then on in, the nyckelharpa is placed in a multiplicity of creative contexts on tunes penned mostly by Gris herself, of which the stately Skånklåt For Thursa most closely approximates the Swedish tradition. Spring Storm (a pair of slip polkas) eerily counterpoints the nyckelharpa with violin and makes great play of jazzy cross-syncopations on piano, cahon and bodhrán, while the Erdély Reels set aromatically mingles gypsy swing with Transylvanian and North African modes. The Magpies And The Mole is driven by a hypnotic, mantric gourd-percussion figure (a bit Third Ear Band!), while Alpha features the raw and strident tone of the riti (a Gambian one-stringed fiddle). The Irime (Ice Warrior) reel (also featured on the disc's bonus video) moves from rippling Carnatic raga-inspired motifs to funkier African bass riffs, while The Charmer and Treadlightly March incorporate samples into their exotic, Malian-inflected tapestries. The busy backings are both distinctly stimulating and most imaginative, often with unusual aural consquences (like the bodhrán part on Skånklåt which sounds for all the world like a tabla!). But even though plenty else is happening in the soundscape, I too swiftly became addicted to the fabulous sound of the nyckelharpa itself, finding it hard to prise this brave, enchanting and most rewarding disc from the player. "