Garmarna — Garmarna
(NorthSide NSD6056, 1993/2001, CD)
Hedningarna — Hedningarna
(NorthSide NSD6057, 1989/2001, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-07-01
Over the last few years, I’ve had several occasions to gush about how wonderful Garmarna is, namely the release of each of their three American CDs (the first two on Omnium, the third on NorthSide). I missed their first release, which came out only in Sweden. That shortfall is now alleviated by NorthSide’s reissue of that first EP, with the addition of six instrumental demos from before that recording. The band in 1993 was a quartet consisting of Stefan Brisland-Ferner (mainly on violin, hurdy-gurdy), Jens Höglin (percussion), Gotte Ringqvist (luteguitar, violin and so on), and Rickard Westman (bouzouki, guitar). Their basic style was established: droning hurdy-gurdy with violin and acoustic guitar playing medieval-sounding Swedish melodies, all backed by aggressive, intense percussion. Emma Härdelin joined in on three of the six tracks as a guest vocalist – it’s easy to see why she became a full-fledged member of the group thereafter. The 1992 demos find the band a little more stripped down but still sounding full of energy.
For Hedningarna’s beginnings, you have to go back to 1989, when multi-instrumentalists Björn Tollin, Anders Norudde, and Hållbus Totte Mattson recorded an acoustic album with a similar base: Swedish folk tunes on acoustic instruments backed by percussion from around the world. Though decidedly on a lower energy level than Garmarna, Hedningarna fascinate with greater variety, adding flute, bagpipe and “PVC bass willow flute” to the stew. Their electronic experimentation was still in the future (likewise the Finnish singers), but the probing spirit is unmistakable.
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more