• New Music by Hildaland: Ethan Setiawan and Louise Bichan - Sule Skerry

    Ethan Setiawan and Louise Bichan - Sule Skerry

    PORTLAND, MAINE — Hildalan, the duo of fiddler Louise Bichan and mandolinist Ethan Setiawan have announced the release of their debut album today entitled Sule Skerry on Adhyâropa Records.

    Scottish fiddler Louise Bichan and American mandolinist Ethan Setiawan have been making music together for years as part of the four-piece outfit Corner House. Now the two instrumentalists have taken the opportunity to see what a stripped-down duo sound can manifest, in the form of Hildaland. On their debut album, the pair focuses on remaking traditional music, with a focus on Bichan’s Scottish musical roots.

    "Like Corner House, this project is still a fusion of many styles, but as a duo, we focus more on Scottish influences and traditional Celtic music. A pretty big part of Hildaland is taking traditional material and greatly reworking it into something new," they explain.

    Originally from the Orkney Islands of Scotland, Bichan met Setiawan during their time at Berklee College of Music in Boston MA. Setiawan grew up in Indiana and has made a name for himself as a virtuosic mandolin player, winning The 2017 Rockygrass Mandolin Championship, and performing with the likes of Darrell Scott and Julian Lage. Bichan says, "Ethan always has really interesting musical ideas, and takes things in directions I wouldn’t think to go. He writes brilliant tunes, which are often challenging and push me out of my comfort zone, which I appreciate."

    Bichan is an award-winning fiddle player herself, who has appeared on the BBC and at the Edinburgh Castle and Cambridge Folk Festival among many other places. "Louise has a beautiful sense of melody and harmony. She often comes up with ideas that seem perfect, and so totally not what I would have come up with. She plays with a lot of drive, and derives beautiful arcs of storytelling within a melody," explains Setiawan.

    Sule Skerry is a collection of traditional tunes reworked, some original tunes, and a few songs, which "act as accents to an instrumental piece of work," explains Bichan. Setiawan and Bichan both penned original tunes which appear in the collection. "Silver Dollar," which was written by Bichan, is a bright and lovely moment, showing the duo performing completely in sync and with immense joy, unfolding from a unison melody to rhythmic accompaniment and then harmony. The tune was written for the occasion of Bichan’s aunt and uncle's silver wedding anniversary.

    Setiawan’s "Vera and Weezy," written for a pair of dogs living in the apartment above the couple's home, features the piano playing of Neil Pearlman and moves Setiawan’s normally bluegrass/Old Time sound in the direction of Scottish fusion.

    A stand-out track on the album is a cover of Gillian Welch's "Everything is Free Now," sung by special guest Sadie Gustafson-Zook, a childhood friend of Setiawan's, and a gifted singer-songwriter. The track highlights Hildaland’s ability to use their instruments and vocals as support rather than in center stage, and their deep sense of musicality, as the track is a shift away from the instrumental focus of the album.

    Setiawan recorded and mixed the record in their home, and the pair self-produced the album. The result is music that feels entirely genuine, an exploration of possibilities in an intimate setting between two brilliant musicians. "Musical communication is pretty effortless at this point, which wasn't always the case," explains Bichan. "When we're playing a melody in unison I love to get it to lock in and sit just right. Ethan will often create chords for a melody that I wrote. With this record and making production decisions we had to make a lot of calls on our own, without bandmates or producers, which was great."

    Track Listing

    • Tune For Ellice
    • The Silver Dollar
    • Ettrick
    • Coffee & Incense
    • The Selkie of Sule Skerry
    • Shetland Jigs
    • Weezy & Vera
    • Fall On My Knees
    • Elk River Blues
    • Everything Is Free
    • Trains/Fin's

    Additional Information