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
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
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
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