Exposé Online banner

Garmarna — Vittrad
(Omnium OMM 2008D, 1994, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 1999-04-01

Vittrad Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 17, 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Garmarna

More info
http://omniumrecords.com/product/garmarna-vittrad/

Latest news

2020-06-14
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

2020-05-15
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

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, 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

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Box of Crayons - Colorblind Chameleon – This one took me several listens before I could even begin to pin it down enough to write a review. Covering a wide spectrum of art rock, Box of Crayons are certainly interesting. Their starting point...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues