Jazz Ist Anders, Die Ärzte's 11th studio album to date and their first in four years, should thrill devoted fans of the chart-topping German punk band. While it's not as ambitious as their previous album, the double-disc, 25-track Geräusch (2003), it's a tour de force nonetheless. There are 16 songs – actually, 19 overall if you count the three-track bonus disc – and each is unique in its own way, whether in terms of songwriting or instrumentation. The three bandmembers (guitarist Farin Urlaub, bassist Rodrigo González, and drummer Bela B.) take turns singing, and all contribute songs of their own, sometimes collaborating with one another.
Norwegian folk musician Sinikka Langeland, singer and player of the kantele (the Finnish table harp) is a distinctly non-traditional traditionalist, redefining "folk" in successive projects. 'Maria's Song' finds her in the company of two distinguished classical musicians - organist Kare Nordstoga and "giant of the Nordic viola" Lars Anders Tomter - and on a mission to restore Marian texts to sacred music, weaving folk melodies in between the timeless strains of J S Bach. Langeland made a lot of friends with her sparkling ECM debut Starflowers: "There are jewels everywhere on this arresting example of ego-free music-making. One of the albums of this or any other year" raved the Irish Times. Where Starflowers brought Langeland into the orbit of jazz improvisers, Maria's Song is a meeting and cross referencing of folk and 'classical' energies, and also a righting of historical 'injustice': Religious folk songs are amongst the most distinctive elements of the Norwegian folk tradition, yet the Virgin Mary rarely appears in them. Once a much-worshipped figure in the Far North she was, as Sinikka puts it, "reformed" away in 1537, so this album brings Maria back into the music. It was recorded in the beautiful Nidaros Cathedral of Trondheim, famous for its Baroque organ heard here.