Gjallarhorn — Grimborg
(NorthSide NSD6070, 2002, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2003-08-01Gjallarhorn’s last album, Sjofn (reviewed in #21), was one of my top CDs of 2000. The combination of thunderous drums, droning didgeridoo, and female vocals made for a unique sound that really caught my imagination. The first thing I noticed about Grimborg is that it is in some ways less intense, with David Lillkvist’s percussion taking a slightly more subdued role much of the time, and the fiddles taking more of a lead. It’s the same elements the band has had all along with the balance shifted a bit. As with Sjofn, there is such power in the music that it’s hard to believe it’s entirely acoustic. Jenny Wilhelms’s voice is beautiful as ever, and with less of the massed multitracking featured on the last album, her singing seems more intimate. Wilhelms on fiddle and hardanger, combined with Tommy Mansikka-Aho on viola, give the music a heavy stringed component without the use of guitars, and their lively playing keeps things interesting, the viola providing an important middle range complement to the higher pitches of the violin and the low tones of the didgeridoo. Using didgeridoo for backing is a risky choice given the instrument’s inherent limitations, but Tommy Mansikka-Aho brings forth a wide variety of tones and rhythms from the simple tubes, and in conjunction with the wide variety of percussion instruments, simplicity breeds fascination. There is no other band on the planet that sounds like Gjallarhorn, and that is quite an accomplishment at this point in music history.
Related artist(s): Gjallarhorn
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
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