Exposé Online banner

Gjallarhorn — Sjofn
(NorthSide NSD6052, 2000, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2001-03-01

Sjofn Cover artFans 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.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 21, 2000 releases

Related artist(s): Gjallarhorn

Latest news

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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Threshold - Clone – Given that this is a Karl Groom project, and that it's on the GEP label, and that the first tune is called "Freaks," you would be pretty safe to assume this is another tired and unwanted neo-prog...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues