Garmarna — Hildegard von Bingen
(NorthSide NSD6063, 2001, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2002-04-01When I first heard that Garmarna’s next album was going to consist entirely of music by 12th Century composer Hildegard von Bingen, I was a bit concerned. But I was assured they weren’t going New Age, setting medieval chants to insipid beats. Von Bingen would be Garmarnified, not vice versa. After all, their last album’s “Euchari” was a von Bingen adaptation, and it was a great tune. I got a little preview of what this CD would sound like when the band played a few tunes live on their brief US tour of 2000. Even that could not prepare me for this magnificent album. The stately modal melodies are not far removed from the traditional tunes Garmarna has dealt with in the past, only now the lyrics are in Latin instead of Swedish (which is not much difference to a listener who understands neither). The one major change from previous outings is the style of the rhythm parts. It was thunderous drumming which first attracted me to this band, and while I have to admit a slight disappointment that thunder is nowhere in the forecast, the skittering beats of this set are immensely appealing, blending programmed and live sounds seamlessly. The stop-start edits and thirty-second note fills have more than a passing resemblance to current trends in electronic music and hip-hop, but combined with hurdy-gurdy, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and Emma Härdelin’s ever-serene voice, no one will ever mistake this for Missy Elliott or Aphex Twin. A truly stunning album, full of amazing sounds.
Related artist(s): Garmarna
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more