To my knowledge, this is a total one-off. Garnas has a beautiful voice, by turns ethereal and strident - fans of Lisa Gerrard (ex-Dead Can Dance) will find much to admire here. Garbarek's music is of its time (pairing sax with late 80s synths), so the odd chord might remind you - of all things - of a snatch of Harold Faltermeyer or Don Henley!! But don't go away. His saxophone is sublime and the keyboards contribute greatly to the eerie atmosphere of much of the record. The percussion is startling - again the nearest reference point I can think of (Peter Gabriel's soundtrack work) is not really close enough, but it'll have to do. I don't know what this record is - "ethnic folk"? "world jazz"? - but you should definitely buy it. How did I find it? ECM's 'rarum' CDs. ECM (for those unfamiliar) is a contemporary jazz/classical label (as famous for their gorgeous packaging as their artists!). They've released a series of CDs, all called 'rarum', on which some of their artists select their own 'best of'. I bought Keith Jarrett's 'rarum' which featured Jan Garbarek - this led me to buy the Garabrek 'rarum', which includes the track 'Rosensfole'. I was hooked. Buy the 'rarum's as well if you have the budget, but this is the buried treasure.
ECM's packaging for this album seems do many things to turn you off buying this record - let alone getting ithome to play it. There is a blurred black and white photograph of reindeer, and the caption under 'Rosensfole' tells you something about medieval Norwegian folk music. DO NOT BE PUT OFF! Inside the package is a gem of what has become known as world jazz, which is equally assessible to folk music fans and others.
Buen Garnas is renown in Norway for collecting and recording traditional Scandavadian folk tunes. Jan Garbarek in his long tenure as one of ECM's best selling recording artists, has encompassed many forms of music to meld with his most distinction jazz saxophone. This is another example of this experimentation coming off. However, surprisingly Garbarek largely abandons the sax in favour of synths and percussion to beautifully augment the music of Garnas. (Cornish sax player John Surman has used synths in a similar way - e.g on his album 'Road To St Ives'). To further give the sense of music without national boundaries, Indian percussion is used. As a result there is no hint of this music being 'medieval' (listen Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble for that) nor particularly 'Scanadavian'. Instead a masterful and enjoyous album of multi-cultural music, and it is of the present.