Garmarna — Vedergällningen (Vengeance)
(NorthSide NSD6028, 1999, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2000-05-01Garmarna’s newest release starts out with a grab for the listener’s throat. “Gamen (Vulture)” begins with a flanged rhythmic pattern on two fiddles which builds up to a powerful crash as the drums and bass enter. The snare-heavy drum pattern would not sound too out of place on a Chemical Brothers album, and the bass is more than a little fuzzed. Then Emma Härdelin’s serene vocal comes in, singing in Swedish. A check of the liner notes tells what she’s singing: the traditional story of King Vallemo, who, with the help of a talking vulture, rescues his daughter on the verge of being burned at the stake. Emma’s verses are alternated with reprises of the fiddle melody, accompanied sometimes by acoustic guitar, sometimes by a twist of feedback from an electric guitar. Of the many acts currently fusing Scandinavian folk music with modern sounds, Garmarna is perhaps the most aggressive. They concentrate for the most part on stories of murder, deception, and revenge, complementing the words with music that is sometimes very rhythmic and forceful, sometimes atmospheric and moody. Of the ten tracks on Vengeance, only two are not based on traditional material: “Euchari,” a relatively cheerful love song which veers near trip-hop territory; and “Polska,” an instrumental piece featuring hurdy-gurdy and a loping three-four drum part. Several of the songs feature a low drone with indistinct distorted noises providing a rhythmic pattern. The most common melodic sounds are fiddles and Emma’s crisp, versatile voice. Drummer Jens Höglin favors pounding patterns on his toms rather than kick and snare beats. The electric guitar is used more as a source of feedback than for chords or melodies. Ever since I heard Vittrad, Garmarna’s first American release, I’ve been fascinated by their unique sound. Vengeance, their third, continues the progression admirably, building on an impressive past and promising great things to come.
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
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more