Fishtank Ensemble’s lead singer Ursula Knudson likes to play music at the edge of the world, whether that’s breaking out her violin in the rural pockets of Maine or twangin’ on her hand saw at the tip of the heel of the boot of Italy.
“I had this epiphany,” Knudson tells EW of playing in faraway and obscure places. “How much I love doing that more than playing in big cities.” She adds, “We’ve brought music to every nook and cranny, which I think is important to do.”
The edge of the world is not only a place that Knudson is seeking; it’s the name of Fishtank Ensemble’s upcoming album, to be released in 2013. “We’re working on a new album as we speak,” she says. The gypsy jazz band was expecting to have the follow-up to Women in Sin complete by the time they returned to Eugene March 19, but it felt rushed. “We decided we wanted to have the best album possible.”
On Edge of the World, there will be Greek and Turkish music — a geographical genre the band had yet to explore — as well as more original tunes. That is what Ensemble does best: melding the international with the homegrown, propelling both into a colorful, layered, frenetic and, most importantly, really fun world of music and dance. Listen for new sounds, like the plucking of the qanun (an Arabic stringed instrument shaped like a trapezoid) and the beat of the doumbek (a Turkish drum). And that’s in addition to the usual violins, hand saw, upright bass, banjolele and flamenco and gypsy jazz guitar.
Finding and arranging music, often found deeply nested in European folk traditions, is a journey and battle, Knudson explains. “That’s why we don’t come out with albums often,” she says. If it’s anything like their last album, it will be worth the wait.
Fishtank Ensemble plays with Mood Area 52 7 pm Tuesday, March 19, at WOW Hall; $12; and 8:30 pm Wednesday, March 20, at Axe & Fiddle;$7.