Exposé Online banner

Garmarna — Vittrad
(Omnium OMM 2008D, 1994, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 1999-04-01

Vittrad Cover artGarmarna 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.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 17, 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Garmarna

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Alejandro Lomelin - Luz de Intenso Azul – Luz is the instrumental solo project of keyboardist Alejandro Lomelin, of the Mexican band Caja De Pandora. For the most part this is a work of simpler repetitive piano figures and introspective...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues