Raun - Dance Jon
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Dance Jon
Drone (www.drone.se)

cd cover The past decade has seen an endless stream of amazing music from the Nordic countries, and now we can add the group Raun as a promising new contender in the folk-rock category. What makes Raun stand out in this crowded field is their bare, stripped-to-the-bones approach to their music. The band keeps the arrangements spare: hurdy-gurdy, bass, drums, and vocals dominate the mix, but that description does not quite capture the oddness of Raun's sound. These are mostly traditional songs that lumber out of your speakers as if performed by a group of large, rubbery skeletons. The crunching, metallic percussion of Magnus Ek and Goran Mansson (they call what they do 'junk beat') clearly send Raun out into a folk-industrial territory, and the wheeze and clunkiness they lay down for the band brings to mind both Tom Waits' Bone Machine and the Broadway show Stomp.

I do not mean to imply that Dance Jon is overly noisy; in fact, the dark and spacious quality of Raun's sound makes for one of the quirkiest records I have heard lately. "En Sadan Vacker Flicka" is a fairly straightforward track, buzzing along on hurdy-gurdy, flute, and chanted vocals: call it trance-folk. But that is preceded by the band's electro-hurdy-gurdy track "Dance Jon" with its distorted vocals, and the huffing, ominous sound of "Heiemo Og Nykkjen," a tune that begins with insane laughter and recounts the lure of the evil spirit of the waters. Lead singer Helena Ek has a beautiful voice that nicely grounds the postmodern joy of Raun, and fans of Garmarna will sit up and take notice of her interpretation of "Sordarvalla."

Raun are a daring experiment where art-funk meets traditional folk music, yet the band is in its own way strangely accessible. It is great to see Nordic folk music getting yet another kick in the pants, and Raun deliver the goods. - Lee Blackstone

The band's web site

CD available from cdRoots

Audio ©2003 Drone Music, Sweden, used by permission

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