Gjallarhorn — Sjofn
(NorthSide NSD6052, 2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01Fans of the progressive strain of Nordic music pioneered by Hedningarna and Garmarna now have another genre-bending band to latch onto. Finland’s Gjallarhorn take some of the elements of those two bands and add some intriguing new twists to make one of the most fascinating sounds of 2000. Nordic music is noted for drones under the ornamental melodies, usually provided by a stringed instrument (violin, hurdy-gurdy and so on) or Jew’s harp, or, in modern cases, a synthesizer. Gjallarhorn incorporate a drone instrument from a very different part of the world – the Australian didgeridoo. Strange as it may seem, it’s an inspired match. The beautiful voice of Jenny Wilhelms floats over the low drone, joined by fiddle and mandola and other acoustic instruments. A wide variety of percussion from around the world, including African djembe and Latin congas, provides a driving pulse on most tracks. Given the incredible power of the music, it’s hard to imagine there are no electric or electronic instruments. Between the expansive tone of the didgeridoo and the percussion, which ranges to spirited but subtle shakers to pounding toms and frame drums, synthesizers and electric guitars become quite irrelevant. For their source material, the band take inspiration from traditional tunes of Sweden, Iceland, and Karelia, but the interpretation is all their own. Other band members Christopher Öhman (viola, mandola, fiddle, kalimba, and vocals), Tommy Mansikka-Aho (didgeridoo, slideridoo, Jew’s harp, and percussion), and David Lillkvist (more percussion instruments than I care to type out) provide a superb level of musical imagination backing Wilhelms’ voice (multitracked in luscious arrangements) and fiddle. It is only with great difficulty that I tear myself away from this disc to review anything else.
Related artist(s): Gjallarhorn
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