Garmarna — Vittrad
(Omnium OMM 2008D, 1994, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-04-01
Garmarna is doing its 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
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more