Five years after her stunning ECM debut recording, here is a sequel with the same highly creative Norwegian-Finnish-Swedish personnel, once more engaged in adventures at the interstices of folk song, literature, and jazz-rooted improvisation, On The Land That Is Not, Norwegian singer and kantele player Sinikka Langeland builds upon the blueprint established with Starflowers. As the Irish Times's Ray Comiskey noted of the earlier disc: Sinikka Langeland is a gifted folk singer, but not one stifled by tradition. Her ability to work seamlessly with jazz musicians, as she does so memorably here, is part of the reason for the success of this marriage of folk, jazz and poetry. Individually and collectively, the quintet is superb, Henriksen and Seim play brilliantly off the voice and each other, while the group catches a variety of moods persuasively; they can groove with understated power. All of which applies with equal pertinence to The Land That Is Not. Indeed, the band is stronger now, the musicians having played concerts with Sinikka in the intervening years in diverse permutations and also strengthening their improvisational understanding with shared work in other contexts - Henriksen playing in Seim's large ensemble, for instance, Seim and Ounaskari working together in Iro Haarla's group, and so on, the circle of influence continuing to widen. And Anders Jormin, who has been Sinikka's preferred bassist since the mid-1990s, also contributes as co-composer of two pieces here. For their new quintet recording, Sinikka takes as her inspirational starting point poetry of Edith Södergran (1892-1923) and Olav Håkonson Hauge (1908-1994). Södergran, Swedish-speaking poet in Raivola, near St Petersburg, counts now as one of the pioneers of modernist Swedish poetry, but in a brief life terminated by tuberculosis lived to see little recognition for her work. The Land That is Not (Landet som icke är) was amongst her last poems, and has been compared to Chuang-Tzu's Homeland of Nothing Whatsoever, a work of spiritual detachment, claiming its distance from the chaos of human society. Södergran, isolated by circumstance, turned her loneliness to artistic advantage in her verse. The Norwegian Olav Håkonson Hauge, who similarly influenced a line of modern writers, was also a poet of solitude with an affinity for far eastern verse, and the way in which he can convey a landscape in a few words has some of the taut economy of the Zen poets. Hauge, who lived his whole life in Ulvik, supporting himself as a fruit farmer, began to publish poems in the 1940s. With both Södergran and Hauge, in the verses set to music here, there are thematic connections to Hans Børli, the lumberjack poet of the Norwegian forest, whom Sinikka celebrated on Starflowers. In these recordings independent voices answer to independent voices...and there is a freedom in the moments when Sinikka is alone and unaccompanied, just as there is in the group improvising that arises so naturally out of the song structures.