Here are two very different but very fresh approaches to Swedish traditional (and not so traditional) music. Ranarim is a quartet of young musicians which includes Sofia Sandén and Ulrika Bodén on vocals, Niklas Roswall on nyckelharpa, and Jens Engelbrecht on acoustic guitar and mandola. The sound is light and stripped-down but by no means insubstantial. Sandén and Bodén's voices are pure and strong, with drony harmonies.
Multi-instrumentalist Norudde presents twenty-six bare-bones tracks of traditional and original tunes played on Swedish bagpipe, moraharpa (an old form of the nyckelharpa, dating from the sixteenth century), fiddle, and flutes. He has fine technique on all instruments and is able to coax expressive depth out of them despite some of their inherent limitations. Göran "Freddy" Frederickson accompanies him on guitar and bouzouki on a few tracks. Some of the most interesting tunes here are his originals and his unorthodox treatment of traditional material.
Though modest in scope, both of these releases glow with creative energy. The future of Swedish traditional music is in good hands with Ranarim and Norudde. Peggy Latkovich
Audio: all songs traditional, ©2000 Drone Music, Sweden, used by permission
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