"20 tracks, 78 minutes, Cheaper than Food!" proclaimed the sticker on this CD, peeking out at me from a store's disorganized rows of miscellaneous world music discs. `Cheaper than food?!' I thought, bewildered. `What sort of thing is that to say about a recording? If that's the best praise anyone can offer, it doesn't bode well for the quality of the content ...' But economy and curiosity won out and I bought it anyway. What a surprise--it was great! A caption from the back of the package sums up my reaction perfectly: "An ideal introduction to the vibrant traditional music scene developing across the Nordic lands: incredible playing, catchy tunes, brilliant arrangements and strange instruments playing pre-medieval as well as modern compositions. All this music at a very special price." Neo-traditional would probably be a better description of most of the selections, as they combine the quaintness of traditional tunes and folk instruments with elements of rock, technopop, jazz, world fusion music and new age. Swedish and Sami, Finnish and Norweigan, the groups featured on "Nordic Roots" display verve and virtousity, inviting the listener to delve deeper into this fascinating genre--obviously the reason for such an inexpensive sampler. Featured artists include Vasen, Hedningarna, Garmarna, Groupa, Hoven Droven and Wimme. Despite the fact that I actually have Scandinavian roots, I'd never had any exposure to the music of that region. So this album was well worth the price I originally paid--a totally new musical experience. Happily, NorthSide has continued this intriguing series, further introducing and promoting their artisits in "Nordic Roots 2" and "Nordic Roots 3", both of which are also "cheaper than food". Give one a try!