Anne Hytta and the ensemble Tokso have set the ancient Norse visionary poem Voluspá to music. The poem describes a beautiful world that is torn apart by destructive forces. Perhaps the thousand-year-old poem resonates a bit more in our times than we would have wished.
“Voluspá gives me goose bumps all along my spine. Behind the short, direct sentences is an entire world of stories and images that are created beyond the words in the mind of the reader. The poem can give me the same sensation as when I have powerful musical experiences – I am connected to feelings that are beyond words. Then creating music seems very natural,” says Anne Hytta, who has composed the music for the album Fyrsta morginn.
“I think that Voluspá can be unpleasant to read, because the poem describes a kind of destruction that can easily be seen as having parallels to our own times, but mainly I think that the lovely images of the creation of the world evoke a warmth that is full of joy and good energy. I hope the music can illustrate that,” says Hytta.
The members of Tokso have their roots in the supple melody lines of traditional music, and play folk instruments that boast a total of 54 strings. In September it will be 10 years since the quartet met for the first time, so the album launch and the tour also mark an anniversary. The story of the untraditional string quartet began in the autumn of 2008, when Anne Hytta was asked to put together a new project for the Mela Festival in Oslo. She contacted Eng, Billy and Thoma, whom she knew from various contexts. Luckily they all wanted to participate, and Tokso became a quartet where the members were immediately on the same wavelength.
They are still on the same wavelength, and through the years they have held concerts in Norway, France and Crete. Their first album, Tokso, was released in 2011, Cor Amant came out in 2014, and this year Fyrsta morginn is being released on the Heilo/Grappa label. On this album they have been joined by bassist Jo Skaansar and percussionist Bijan Chemirani, who contribute their own special groove and imbue Tokso with an even richer soundscape.