Fotos: Brian Tomczyk, Niels Horskjær and Michael Opsahl

Bill Binkelmann – Zone Music Reporter

Celtic harp is one of those magical instruments that seem to strike a chord (no pun intended) deep inside me–a chord of supreme relaxation and irresistible beauty. When the natural healing qualities of the Celtic harp are channeled through the skilled hands of Trine Opsahl, that effect is multiplied. Somewhere in a Hidden Memory is all the more amazing when one takes into account that, rather than incorporate some (more usual) Celtic/Irish standard tunes, Opsahl has composed all fifteen tracks herself.

The first thing that struck me about Somewhere in a Hidden Memory was that, no matter what the tempo of a song was (not that there is anything fast and furious on the album), the mood remains consistently pensive, calming, and mellow. Even when Opsahl’s fingers dance swiftly across the harp’s strings, her deft control of volume and nuance, combined with her compositions themselves (and the innate musical quality of the Celtic harp, too, of course) translates into an overall effect of reflection, a gentle cascade of soothing melodies brought about by individual notes.

While tracks do slightly vary in musical style (except for the base root of being solo harp), the main difference between songs is probably duration. Some tracks clock in at barely two minutes or even shorter, while others, such as “Morning Mist and the Breathing of Evening” and the title track, are over six minutes in duration. Having written that, when this wonderful disc is played in the background, all you are likely to be aware of is the wondrous yet subdued music which will pour forth from your system’s speakers, i.e. there are no jarring transitions song-to-song to interrupt the flow.

Highlighting specific tracks is somewhat superfluous for two reasons: (1) the music does bear some similarity throughout the album, which is not only unavoidable, but, I imagine, intentional, and (2) picking a favored song out of this batch is an exercise in futility. Each one has unmistakable individual elements, when put under close scrutiny, but it’s not like this song or that one will “pop out” and grab you the way many other recordings might. For the sake of being thorough, though, here are some comments on specific songs, since I almost always do so in my reviews.

“To a Wild Rose” seems to emphasize the instrument’s Celtic roots, as well as having a noticeable romantic aspect to the tune. “A Star in Heaven is Born Tonight” has a more ethereal sound, especially when Opsahl hits the upper registers. The aforementioned “Morning Mist and the Breathing of the Evening” is sparser, darker, with a hint of mystery shrouded in fog. The main melody of “Ladybirds and Butterflies” is sweet, wistful, and evokes sun-drenched meadows. “True Thomas” (like “To a Wild Rose”) seems to have a more pronounced Irish flavor, albeit a slower pace than the former. On “Ripples in Water,” Opsahl takes the music in a direction that, at times, seems to have a subtle Japanese influence, as well as a hint of jazz. The title track combines subdued melancholy with a gentle mood of reflection, all done in a more impressionistic fashion than some of the other, more structured, tracks on the album. “The Space Between the Fish and the Moon” features a number of glistening arpeggios, which bubble forth like a brook laughing as it traverses over stones.

Trine Opsahl is of Norwegian descent and now resides in Denmark. I suggest reading her bio (on her website) for the interesting story of the road she traveled to get where she is now. This album is her third release and I only wish I had known of her sooner–I never tire of music as timeless and therapeutic as hers. Somewhere in a Hidden Memory is no longer a “hidden” CD which is great news for listeners looking for a soothing musical balm to counteract the craziness we must contend with on a day-by-day basis.

Rating: Excellent

Bill Binkelman
Zone Music Reporter