Garmarna — Vittrad
(Omnium OMM 2008D, 1994, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-04-01Garmarna are doing their part to bring Swedish traditional music into the modern age, coupling the medieval sound of droning fiddles and folk melodies with energetic drums, electric guitars, and modern production for a unique sound. In some ways, they remind me of a Scandinavian version of the Oyster Band, though less pop oriented. For the most part, violins (played by three band members!) and acoustic guitars (assisted by bouzouki and lute) dominate the sound, with drummer Jens Högland propelling the band with throbbing toms. Swedish violin playing has a very fluid style, almost bagpipe-like, much in evidence here. The pervasive use of Jews harp for rhythmic accompaniment could spell disaster, but somehow provides a fitting bounce to the music. The female vocalist, Emma Härdelin, has a strong, almost-shrill voice that carries over the lush instrumentation well on the five tracks with lyrics (all in Swedish). The album flows well, featuring brief interludes, some vocal, some instrumental, between the major pieces. One of my favorites is the suite made up of "Flusspolska," a short bouzouki/hurdy-gurdy duet with droning background which builds into the intense "Antioka," a rousing minor-key stomper. The disc's finale is equally impressive. "Klevbergselden" starts with a low ominous drone and distant thundering drums (rather like Peter Gabriel used on Passion) which grow in intensity until a grand crash brings in chunky drop-D electric guitar with an almost death-metal sound topped by eerie echoes. Later, acoustic instruments add a folk-inspired melody above the pounding beat. It's very rare to find music of such power unmarred by clichés, but Garmarna have something completely their own.
Related artist(s): Garmarna
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
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