Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet spent his childhood in the Loire Valley in central-western France: a stunning, rural region defined by its series of sky-piercing castles. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he grew up to be the multi-instrumentalist of a historical prog/folk collective.

As a child, I was quite introverted and surrounded by these mediaeval ruins and fortresses,” the mastermind behind Skáld tells //Prog// – or, more specifically, his interpreter tells //Prog//, since he speaks solely in French. “I used to play in these special places a lot by myself, and my parents say that I’d always ask things like, ‘Why? Why don’t we tell stories about our past? What were things like before?’ So I’ve always had a link with mediaeval culture. I think, at that time, that’s the time when I also got into music.”

The castles that line the Loire Valley were built in the Middle Ages with the goal of fending off the Vikings out to invade France. However, the Nordic culture lives on in the country through Voisin-Boisvinet and his songs. Skáld’s mot recent album, //Huldufólk//, is dedicated to Scandinavia’s folkloric “secret people”: supernatural beings that are similar to humans, yet invisible.

In Iceland, the huldufólk exist as a cultural phenomenon,” Voisin-Boisvinet explains, “but it’s become quite cutesy, with lots of different elves and trolls. I wanted to distance myself from that and focus on what we, now, don’t or can’t see. I think people used to be able to see a space where nature and divinity came together, so I’ve dedicated this record to that aspect of the huldufólk.”

Voisin-Boisvinet and his band, which on the album includes three other musicians and eight vocalists, pay tribute with aptly ethereal-sounding but percussion-led folk. Although Skáld’s leader says the songs are artistic imaginings and not necessarily replicas of age-old melodies, the likes of //Troll Kalla Mik// and //Hinn Mikli Dreki// evoke images of Viking battles and mystical rituals.

Skáld officially formed in 2018, although Voisin-Boisvinet says the idea dates back to six years prior. He acknowledges that, in the process, he stepped into a Nordic and prog-adjacent folk space already dominated by Wardruna and Heilung. “For me, the master of this area is Wardruna,” the musician says, “and I’ve been fortunate enough to share the stage with Heilung. But what sets us apart is that we are not dark. For example, if we wrote a song about a wolf, it’d be about how to tame the wolf and diffuse that situation.”

True to that spirit of differentiating himself from the pack, Voisin-Boisvinet also says that Skáld’s tunes will only grow more avant-garde and expansive as the band goes. “One of my aims is to continue with lots of different voices: more voices, different timbres, different pitches. And another thing I’m interested in is sounds directly from nature. I want to include the musicality of water on stone, as well as other northern European languages.”

He concludes: “I don’t want to just be Old Norse.”


Line-up: Christophe Voisin-Boisvinet (percussion, horn, keyboards, programming), Ravn (talharpa, moraharpa, gudok), Nicolas Montazaud (percussion), Aliocha Regnard (nyckelharpa), Laetitia Marcangeli (vocals), Marti Ilmar Uibo (vocals), Michel Abraham (vocals), Adeline Bellart (vocals), Steeve Petit (vocals), Julien Loko (vocals), Lily Jung (vocals), Kohann (vocals)

Sounds like: A time capsule to the middle ages, built out of ancient percussion and mystical vocals

Current release: Huldúfolk is out now via U Music


Matt Mills

From "Limelight - Skáld" Prog Reprinted with permission.

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