Kristian Blak is pianist, founder and the main composer of the group. He has written several large scale works in suite form for Yggdrasil, most of these released on Tutl Records. Yggdrasil is a Nordic ensemble, based in the Faroe Islands. Formed in 1981, it has always included musicians from other countries.
Yggdrasil has, from its inception, had a distinct concept. Most compositions have been created in collaboration with other forms of art or, in some cases, with nature. Musicians that have been part of the ensemble, whether on long-term basis or as participants in a particular project, have varied musical backgrounds, mainly in jazz, but also in ethnic, folk, rock and classical music. While the works draw ideas or themes from ethnic material, improvisation ranges from free to classical style.
Over the years, many musicians and artists have contributed to Yggdrasil’s projects, which include visual art, poetry, ballet, opera, concertos in grottos; and essential to the Yggdrasil concept is that the personality of each individual member of the ensemble be heard or seen. This makes Yggdrasil’s sound truly unique.
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the World Tree. The branches of the mighty ash reach up above the heavens, and its three roots pass into the realms of the Æsir and of the frost giants and descend deep into the underworld. At the very top of Yggdrasil sits the wise eagle, keeping watch. The three Norns water and nurture the tree each day, while the great serpent Niðhøgg, together with a host of lesser snakes, gnaws at its root. Thus, the tree is in a state of cosmic equilibrium, constantly threatened and devoured as it grows and flourishes.
Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is all-encompassing; Yggdrasil, the ensemble, has a repertoire that encompasses a wide range of genres – from free jazz to classical – and expressions – from humor and beauty to disaster and destruction. The line-up of the band has similarly changed organically over the years. Like new branches of the tree, some of the musicians are a generation or more younger than those who founded the group. As an ensemble, Yggdrasil continues its growth in exploring new paths of musical expression.
Live performance by Yggdrasil on YouTube: