Scan Music Fest
Sweden

Many of these recordings are available from cdRoots


Garmarna
Vengeance (Vedergällningen)
NorthSide-US (www.noside.com)
MNW-Sweden (www.cabal.se/massproduktion)

Since I first heard this band in 1993, I have been a huge fan. Their mix of acoustic instruments and folk roots with electrification and a punky attitude grabbed me from the start. Their 1994 album Vittrad ranks as one of the best folk-fusions of the decade. They are raw, energetic and edgy, driven by talented musicians and fronted by a phenomenal young singer and fiddler, Emma Härdelin. All that said, Vengeance seems to have discovered production, synthesizers and Euro-pop, and it is none the better for it. Cliched synth effects lessen the dark impact of the actual songs and the production's tendency toward the mainstream is at least an annoyance, and often eviscerates the songs. The sheer energy of this band can be stunning, and it appears on a few of the ten songs on Vengeance (i.e.: "Sorgsen ton [Woeful tone]," "Brun" and "Polska"), where the band seems to be left to its own devices. Here and there they tear through a song with gusto or subtly allow the vocal delivery to shine through; they tease us with moments of brilliance. Too much of it is lost to uncreative production. If I wrote for Rolling Stone, I would tell you this is the best pop record to come out of Scandinavia this year. But I always hope for more from musicians of this caliber, artists who have already proven their capability. - CF


Olov Johansson
Storsvarten
Northside (US) / Drone (Sweden) ( www.noside.com / www.drone.se )

Tilja
Tilja
Amigo ( www.amigo.se )

Players of nyckelharpa, the Swedish sympathetic-stringed keyed fiddle in which bowed strings are stopped against wooden tangents like a hand-bowed hurdy-gurdy, had dwindled to a handful earlier this century. Now there are thousands, many following the example of Olov Johansson, Väsen's ace nyckelharpa player, and earlier Erik Sahlström, both of them from the Uppland, where the instrument survived when it had disappeared elsewhere.

Listen! Storsvarten is Johansson's solo album, a set including polskas, polkett, waltzes, schottische, march, gånglåt and skänklåt, both traditional and his own compositions, which are becoming part of the swelling tradition, plus a favourite Sahlström number. He uses two types of nyckelharpa, the three-row chromatic form developed earlier this century and one of several older forms, simpler and rawer-sounding but still capable of subtle technique, the kontrabasharpa.

It's mainly absolutely solo - a nyckelharpa makes a very full, silvery sound - but on a few items he's also accompanied by the viola and 12-string guitar or octave mandolin of Mikael Marin and Roger Tallroth of Väsen, or Trio Con X's Anders Bromander's piano or organ, and the final track, the chunky, twisted-Baroque "Svampmannen" features Nordman colleagues Mats Olofsson and Claudia Müller on cello and flute.

Fiddlers are finding that a nyckelharpa blends well and enriches a group's sound. Tilja is an able, airy-sounding young trio, fiddlers Karin Olsson from Värmland (already awarded the title Riksspelman) and Jeanett Walerholt from Småland with nyckelharpa player Pernilla Karlsson from Bohuslän. They take turns playing lead, the other two playing harmony or rhythmic chords, in a varied set of traditional tunes from several regions, with one Olsson composition and two from Walerholt. - Andrew Cronshaw (This review originally appeared in the October 1998 issue of Folk Roots magazine. Used with permission)

Available from cdRoots


Triakel
Triakel
NorthSide-US (www.noside.com) / Xource-Europe (www.cabal.se/mnw/xource/)

Triakel in concert This trio from Sweden has a lineage that belies its sound. Emma Härdelin is the stark, emotional singer from the rock band Garmarna. Harmonium player Janne Strömstedt and fiddler Kjell-Erik Eriksson both come from the metallic folk band Hoven Droven. What you would expect is a backing of wailing guitars and dark tom-tom drums with a banshee cry hanging over it, but that's not where this trio went. Instead, they took their abiding interest and faith in traditional folk music and just played it. Old tunes from around Sweden are given a bare-bones, home-recorded treatment with no additional instruments, no studio processing or tricks. Their vibrant live performances are faithfully matched by this loving recording. Old hymns, songs and polskas about the glory of god, unrequited love, murderous weddings and knife-wielding party goers are presented in a direct and unyielding style, showing the voice, organ and fiddle for the potent tools they are. - CF
(photo © 1998 C. Furnald)


Swåp
Swåp
Amigo, Sweden / NorthSide, US (www.noside.com)

Take two outstanding Swedish fiddlers (quite a task in a country full of notable fiddlers) and add equally skilled Brits on accordion and guitar and you have an interesting of cultures. Ian Carr (guitar) and Karen Tweed (accordion) have been making names for themselves as both soloists and most recently with the Kathryn Tickell Band. Ola Backstrom has been fiddling with many Swedish bands, most consistently as part of the roaring rock band Den Fule. Fiddler Carina Normansson is an unknown to me, but with this recording alone she could make her name. Swåp works on material that has deep roots in many European cultures, but is wholly original. The mixing of English roots (particularly some of the more northern aspects) with that dark Swedish minor-key and drone is a natural, and they execute it with poise and agility. There is, honestly, no single "knock your socks off" tune on the record. Each tune is a small moment to be enjoyed in the company of the whole. Swåp work their magic in subtle, consistent ways, weaving small tapestries with unexpected threads and surprising colors. - CF


Suede: Music Populaire
Ocora, France

The title is something of a misnomer, as this collection from Radio France offers historic recordings of some of Sweden's deepest traditional music. These 31 tracks were recorded as far back as 1938, with only two more recent than 1980. From ancient Christian ballads (1938) to hardangfiddle and nyckelharpa (including a chance to hear the great Eric Sahlstrom in 1960), the CD charts the course of the earliest days of the "folk revival," concluding with a live recording from the Falun Folk Festival of herding calls performed in the woods by singers and horn players. Essential listening, because you need to know where things come from. - CF


Sälta
Sälta
Amigo Musik (hq@amigo.se)

An immensely interesting approach to the folk music of Sweden is presented by Sälta. Hadrian Prett is an ace fiddler, as you would expect, but the underpinning of the group's unique sound is provided by Risto Holopainen, who plays piano, both straight and prepared. There is also some unusual percussion from Sebastian Printz-Werner, including mbira and various small drums from around the world that add another element of surprise. Vocalist/flautist Ulrika Bodén adds the final splash of color to the ensemble. The arrangements are tight, slightly off-center and pretty much unlike what you might expect. There are inevitable comparisons to be made to Groupa and the various Ale Möller/Lena Willemark projects, but only as a jumping off point. This group has it's own unique sound and its own fresh, young ideas. If they peruse them further and with more daring next time, they could in fact chart new territory for the Swedish music scene. This is a band to watch! - CF

Available from cdRoots


Dan "Gisen" Malmquist
Nattljus
Xource (Xource@headq.mnw.se)

CD Cover Gisen has been one of the bedrocks of the Swedish folk revival for a long, long time, and his reeds (particularly his distinctive bass clarinet) and flutes have graced some of its most important records, by bands like Filarfolket and Avada Band. Here we have a moody set of original compositions that have traditional leanings, but are more cinematic in quality. As a composer, Malmquist has a distict ear for quiet yet compelling melodies. He can turn a simple folk phrase into a dramatic march or slow air that will rival the best Celtic music. He can also twist a phrase to an unexpected dissonance without losing any of the overall romance of the piece. He is joined here by an excellent group of players on woodwinds, piano, accordion, strings and percussion in large ensemble pieces and a number of wonderful small works. He also has co-written some cabaret-style vocal work with singer Karin Parrot that is one of the highlights of this album. Nattljus won't grab you on a casual listen because its strength is in its subtleties. High musicianship make this record one worth the extra listens. - CF

Available from cdRoots


CD image Trio Patrekatt
Adam
Caprice, Sweden / Mondo Melodia, US

Trio Patrekatt stands out even in a notable crowd of recent Swedish releases because of their unique approach. There are a string trio, with no gimmicks, fusions or over-dubbed guests, just a cello and two nyckleharpa, the drone fiddle that has become finally familiar to you all through the work of bands like Väsen over the last year. They are young, energetic and masterful musicians, a powerful combination. Their repertoire ranges from Kronos-like classical sounding pieces to lilting folk songs, but each piece has a vitality that makes them unique to this ensemble, drawn together by the trios own skill, wit and unified vision. Adam is an excellent first album from an excellent folk trio. - CF

Available from cdRoots


PER TJERNBERG AND MATI KLARWIN team up on an unusual percussion and voice album called No Man's Land (Rub a Dub Records/Sweden; per.odeltorp@abc.se). Swedish musican Tjernberg has been a particular favorite of mine, for his subtle, complex and unfettered approach to new music for percussion. Here he works with poet and painter Klarwin on a soundscape of words and beats that span the globe yet defy location. Lots of sampled voices and sounds are layered over Klarwin's decidedly "Ginsberg-esque" delivery of English language poems and stories. Uniquely personal in its text and its sound, No Man's Land is a special album that fits in no genre. - CF


Percussionist/synthesist PER TJERNBERG's praises have been sung more than once on these pages. His sources are limitless, his creative goals high, and he manages to reign it all in and make a focused, intense new music every time he goes in the studio. The Third Word (Rub-a-Dub/Sweden) is no exception, as he goes deeper into the electronic realm than before without losing any of the sonic spark of a myriad mass of acoustic instruments. As before, there is a heavy eastern influence in his work, but it never comes too far into the forefront of his personal vision, but rather pulls you back towards it through a mist of African percussion, middle eastern drones and other- worldly sounds. The track that best sums up all of this diversity is the eerie "Lizard Juice," with it's swirling loops of voices, basses, flutes and drums.


KALABRA (Caprice, Sweden email:anita.tapper@srk.se) is a sextet that is expanding the big band sound started in the 70s by Filarfolket. (I'm sure they are tired of the comparison, but it is there to be made on this, their first recording.) Using a base of traditional instruments like willow flute, keyed fiddle and Jew's harp, as well as the now all-pervasive bouzouki, they add saxophones, some funky bass and lots of contemporary percussion techniques to generate a new version of the old folk-pop style. It's a fresh turn on it, though, quoting (sometimes excessively) 80s and 90s pop and jazz lines, revamping these ideas to fit into the polska and schottis rhythms. The tunes are traditional, or tradition based, but the lyrics are sometimes a riot, as in this translation of "The Hammock Schottis," "Sitting in the hammock, legs dangling, drinking squash. Granny puts on speed with her pogo stick." The liveliness of the music is irresistible, the musicianship superb. This album falters here and there as the band leans too heavily on familiar tricks, but when they find their own voice, watch out! This is a band to watch for. - CF

Available from cdRoots


Frifot
SummmerSong
Northside (www.noside.com)

Ale Möller, Lena Willemark and Per Gudmundson are some of the most respected and innovative musicians in Sweden (and dare I say, anywhere else in the world). This is a compilation from some their previous recordings together. It's a good selection, including the absolutely essential "Snettlin," one of the classics of the new-folk music of Sweden. You can read reviews of their previous recording (below), and also an interview with Ale Möller. - CF


FRIFOT
Järven
Caprice Records / Sweden

The trio of Ale Möller, Lena Willemark and Per Gudmundson are already know to you as core members of the Nordan Project recordings on ECM. As Frifot they are a more folk oriented group, but they still stretch the boundaries and explore the outside edges on Järven. The fiddles are closer to the heart of this music, and both Gudmundson and Willemark offer stellar performances, driven on by Möller's rhythmic presence on mandolas. The trio provides lots of texture on bagpipes, dulcimer, harp, harmonica and whistles. Foremost, there are the vocals of Lena Willemark, who once again displays a talent that surpasses genre, even in this stricter folk context. The album offers up 22 songs old and new that once again redefine the folk tradition and declare it alive and well in Sweden. -CF

Available from cdRoots


LENA WILLEMARK AND ALE MÖLLER
Agram
ECM

ale again The second time out on ECM for Möller and Willemark is even better than the first. This duo has been at the forefront of the folk-jazz-new music revival in Sweden for almost two decades, and through their solo efforts, various bands, and they ubiquitous presence on everyone else's projects, they have managed to make the ancient roots of Sweden and its neighbors come alive, pushing the limits and then pulling back to the most primitive sounds, mixing and matching the antique strings and reeds of Scandinavia with everything from jazz piano and sax to electronics and rock.

Of course, as an ECM recording, the jazz element is strong on Agram. They are joined by bassist Palle Danilesson and reed man Jonas Knutsson, both well known to jazz fans around the world. On the other side is the avant-folk input of percussionist Tina Johannson and drone-fiddler Mats Edèn, veterans of Filarfolket, Groupa and a host of other important folk-revival groups over the years. Here they and the jazz musicians are given lots of room, using the songs of Scandinavia as a starting point but having plenty of room to improvise and expand the sound and content of those songs. Möller's knack for arranging this material shines again (and his playing, on strings, reeds and ancient folk instruments is superior, too!). Willemark's fiddle and her incredible vocals give the songs heart and meaning that transcends the languages. The whole concept of the Norden Project is perhaps best found on "Samsingen," a song about a medieval warrior fighting a thousand soldiers for the love of the king's daughter. Here the passion of the romance, the energy of the fight, and the spaciousness of the battlefield all seem to come alive in a piece that moves from moody improvisation to energized folk-jazz, carried on Willemark's voice and the ensemble's creative force. Agram is another in a long series of impressive recordings by some of Sweden's best artists. (see also: Ale Möller)


GROUPA
Imeland
Amigo/Sweden

Listen! In a review last year of another Swedish group, I pronounced Groupa deceased. Ouch! I recently received e-mail from keyboardist Rickard Åström announcing that the band was alive and well and had a new album out. Not only are they alive, but they have become even more innovative and fun than ever. Along with Åström, the quartet on Imeland consists of extraordinary accordionist/violinist Mats Edén, wind and reed man Jonas Simonson and former Filarfoklet percussionist Tina Johansson (who has since left the Groupa group to be replaced by Norwegian drummer Helge Norbakken). For a band who was seminal in the revitalization of acoustic music on Scandinavia in the last decade one would have high expectations, and they are not only met but exceeded. They are unrepentant in their mixing of African, Arabic and South American idioms in their work, and unrelenting in their using these sounds to further expand their own folk roots. The band has become more self-assured, punchier and energetic. The songs range from deep traditional waltzes and hallings to wildly loose improvisational adventures. The Swedes have always been at the forefront of the new European folk movement and Groupa is still carrying the standard. - CF
See also: Groupa, 15 years
(The band can be reached by email at rickard.astrom@swipnet.se)

Available from cdRoots



Hoven Droven
Groove
NorthSide (www.noside.com)

Forget Abba and those Playboy-fueled images of perky Swedish blondes. If we are going to traffic in stereotypes, think Ingmar Bergman, interminable nights and high suicide rates. That's closer to the feeling one gets listening to some of the dark, powerful music from a new wave of Swedish avant-folk groups. And forget those images of earnest, gentle folk singers.. The folk traditions this band builds upon are more Brothers Grimm than Everly Brothers.

One such group is Hoven Droven ("Helter Skelter"). It often sounds like a battle between a thrash band and some tough-playing folkies. While the group can play with a poignant, restrained grace, Hoven Droven more often lets its fuzz-tone guitars fly. On Groove, a compilation of two of their Swedish releases, the instrumental group calls to mind virtuosos of the bizarre such as Frank Zappa, King Crimson and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

A typical song will start with acoustic instruments establishing a haunting melody, then drums and monster guitars burst in, kicking up the intensity. The fiddle, brass and wind instruments, however, hold their own against their wattage-heavy cousins --all join together like a hearty, late-night chorus of beery pals. - Marty Lipp


HOVEN DROVEN
Grov
Xource/MNW (headq@mnw.se)

(This is the Swedish album, not the compilation reviewed above)
They get stranger and more abrasive with every recording they have made. Here's a band who can take old polskas and waltzes from the dark corners of early Sweden and make them sound romantic and sweet, or like Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." This time around they lean heavily on the latter, with a funky groove and an even darker sound than before. The horns and the fiddles still dominate, but the fuzz guitars and over-drive bass are gaining ground, and the percussion is coming more to the fore. If you like hearing what people are willing to do to their own traditions, then this is the band to listen to, because the praise and abuse with equal abandon.


Härjedalspipan
(Drone Music - folkmusik@drone.se)

Another great album from multi-instrumentalist Åle Möller and company as they explore the Härjedalspipan, the folk flute of the Härjedals region. Möller is joined by instrument maker Oskar Olofsson, and fiddler Mats Berglund, Greger Brändström and Lasse Sörlin. They not only sought out recordings and written records of these old tunes, but found manuscripts describing the instruments, and reconstructed these old flutes as well. There are solo flute songs in the tradition, but also modern arrangements for fiddle and flute. A bonus on the album are a number of recordings from the 30s and 40s of flute player Olof Jönsson, one of the last of the old school, and part of the inspiration for this album. - CF

Available from cdRoots


GARMARNA
Guds Spellmän
Omnium

I could write six reviews a year about this band if I could only find an excuse. Hailing (or is that halling?) from Sweden, this rock band has one of the toughest, edgiest, dark sounds to come around in a while. They are electrically powered, to be sure, but what they power is unique. Stefan Brislan-Ferner's hurdy-gurdy stands as one of the most unique tools a rock band could use. You have to sit to play it, turning a crank that spins a wheel that rolls against a set of rosined strings and produces a sound in it's acoustic state that would make hair curl and teeth sit on edge (imagine something more abrasive than a bagpipe at dawn). But what happens to this instrument in the context of this band is wondrous: mysterious, softly threatening, as romantic as a Poe story. Layered around this are thundering drums, heavy on the bass-end skins, light on the cymbals; synths, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, viola and violin, jew's harp; enough drones to drown in.

This would be enough to make them a must, but over all of this are the vocals, especially the front end of Emma Härdelin. Here a band becomes a force; melodic, rhythmic, emotional. Surrounded by her male counterparts, the ensemble vocals have the impact I last remember on some early Steeleye Span records. Add their innovative musical arrangements, a purely Swedish music that pays no tithe to tradition, and they rock. I have raved about this band before, and I will rave about them again and again. Garmarna make sure that rock music is not only the domain of American guitars and English haircuts. They prove it can be native, in any tongue.


THE SWEDISH SAX SEPTET
Riff-Ola
Music Of The World

The Swedes have had a remarkable history of blending brass instruments into their traditional dance music, especially during the 70s-80s folk revival in Europe. At the center of the maelstrom were bands like Filarfolket and Groupa and the brass innovations of Anders Rosen, Sten Kallman and Thomas Ringdahl. Here they are joined by four other equally well travelled horn players to form an unusual all-brass ensemble that uses ancient folk, European classical music and a bit of jazz and pop-rock to create a sound both funky and formal. In songs both traditional and original, the septet explores its very unique heritage and offers a brass band unlike any other, more formal than the New Orleans street variety, more rambunctious than a chamber group, and uniquely Scandinavian.


FOUNDLAND Everybody's Neighbor
Xource, via MNW
Foundland is Kristoffer Wallman and Arne Johannson, a studio ensemble-duo in the ambient-electronic vein, full of rambling sounds, disjointed samplings and moody, cloudy riffs. What sets this one apart from the rest is the voices, particularly that of Elle-Marit Labba, and their intelligent use of folk instruments like jew's harp, drone fiddle and horns. I'm not a total fan of this electronic-new-age approach, but those voices... they make it work. Worth tracking through for some really fine moments.


BENGT BERGER is a percussionist who has a particular fascination with the melodic possibilities of pounding skins and wood. He uses tuned sets of tablas, water drums and cymbals to provide marimba-like tunes to his spacious, earthy pieces. Tarang brings together an incredible group of musicians to help him fulfill his east-to-west vision. Indian sarod and violin meet musical saw and bowed cymbals on "Like Wind I Go." The horns of Jonas Knutsson and Åle Möller give a jazzy flavor to the tuned tabla melody that flows through "Tarang A.M." Berger's is consummate understatement, each piece developing in elusive ways that require active energy from the listener, energy well spent in the pursuit of a truly original aural palette.


ERIK STEEN goes south for his inspiration, to the flamenco spirits of Spain and North Africa. Entre Atardecer Y Amanceer is less adventurous than Berger's work, and holds much closer to his source material for inspiration, but the fire is there, and some of the larger band productions are creative and energetic.


ANITAS LIVS Wild World Web
Slask Records/ slask@algonet.se

I was a little worried when these wild worldly women charged into their opening track here, an easy cover of Jagger/Richards "No Expectations." But scant minutes later they were roaring through another set of Indo-Afro-Scando percussion and synths that made their last album a winner. It's incredible what these women have assembled under the moniker of "percussion trio." Bells, gongs, drums, logs are enhanced by notes from synths (even these are played on electonic pads instead of keyboards, supplementing percussive groove). Add to that voices that seem to intuitively understand folk, funk, jazz and ancient Sapmi tongues and this is one unusual band.

It is, of course, this mix of ancient and contemporary that is at the heart of every record I find to be "great," and they have it in abundance. Primitive percussion rattles around songs made famous by Sam Cooke, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, while strange ambient synthetic sounds swirl around old Sanskrit, Tibetan and Scandinavian themes. They even take an Italian "Saltarello" and transform it into something that cuts clos to the bone. Second time out and Anitas Livs have proven that what they have is not clever ephemera, but an ever expanding web of wonder.


ANITAS LIVS
Ugh!
(Slask Records)

The concept behind Ugh! is deliciously absurd; take three women on percussion and vocals, mix together classical Indian themes, even older roots from Lapland, improvisational jazz and Steve Reich-ian new music, and then present it all as a tribute to the early blues of Bessie Smith and Ida Cox. Anitas Livs does just that, and they do it brilliantly. Indefinable sound samples, drums, tin pots and scraps of junk provide the foundation for a vocal attack that is one-worldly and other-worldly. The concept is almost too ridiculous, but the execution is powerful, humorous and daring, with only a few missteps when they try to get too seriously ethnic. When they do it their own way, they capture the spirit of Sweden, ancient India, Lapland, Harlem and Memphis in sweeping, masterful strokes of wild energy and creativity.


Just as I was wondering where some of the folks from Filarfolket had dispersed to, along comes Alla Barnen (Know How Records, c/o Jens Ulvsand, Mollevgen 7, S-240 13 Genarp, Sweden) from the six-piece AVADÁBAND that includes guitar and bouzouki player Jens Ulvsand and former Filar-fella Dan Giesen Malmquist. All of the marks of that band are here, their diversity, their creative use of acoustic instruments, their ability to find the less than obvious connections between very diverse musical cultures, and their sense of humor. The instrumental lineup is the now-standard Swedish "new folk;" accordions, strings, horns and percussion, with touches of synths and other electronics. The songs are a mix of traditional Scandinavian tunes and originals by all the band's members. And what tunes they are, from romping country dances with rap trappings to Malmquist's stomping "Sju Slags Bett," my first taste of Swedish Zydeco, moving from the Cajun straight time to polska a-rythmia. Some of the best turns are with the traditional tunes, which get everything from a respectful reproduction to the funkiest of New Orleans backbeats. No matter where they pillage their rhythms, they always manage to keep it local, and the melodies of Sweden are all through even the most skewed pieces.


Suède-Norvège: Musiques des Vallèes Scandinaves
(Ocora, via Harmonia Mundi)

This album features a wonderful cast of performers, all of them stars of the Swedish and Norwegian folk scenes: Ale Möller (mandolin, flutes), Lena Willmark (voice, violin), Kirsten Bråten-Berg (guimbarde, voice), Per Gudmundsun (violin and bagpipes), and Gunnar Stubseid (hardingfiddle). Recorded live in concert, and in the studios of Radio France, these 31 acoustic songs and tunes are a magnificent introduction to the folk music of Norway and Sweden. Each artist is recognized for their skill and innovation on their instruments, and the voices of Braten-Berg and Willmark are among the best in Scandinavia. While all the players are better known for their modern fusion work, on this set it's almost all traditional tunes, played with spirit and beauty.


DEN FULE
Lugumleik
Xource/MNW

It's what I am always searching for when someone says "world music," a blending of cultures and ideas that is unconcerned with genre, and totally concerned with music. Den Fule are a new Swedish band that includes members of two of Scandinavia's most important bands, the late-great Filarfolket and Groupa. Building on the adventurous folk fusion of these two groups, they are forging a new, more electric path through the north woods. Most of the songs are traditional; the delivery is anything but. The signature horns and fiddles are still there, but they have added a harder edge of electric guitars and kit drums, heavy bass licks and an overall jazz ethic to the mix. The end result is a deceptive, snaking music, that slithers up on an old hardangfiddle tune, and then hisses an electric drone, a funk groove or a searing blast of distortion. This is folk music with contemporary bite, international in sound and yet local in intention. This is a truly Swedish band, but unfettered by the map, unchained by the traditions they love. - CF
(since the writing of this review, I have since found that Groupa is again working hard and playing great music. Read a more recent review!)


Sweden's DEN FULE return with another jarring set of "folk" songs for electric/acoustic instruments. More refined in some ways than their initial effort, this is a sort of Sergeant Pepper approach that uses sitar and kora sounds, Celtic rhythms and raw electric guitars to make these original and yet folky Swedish tunes come alive come alive on Skalv (Xource/MNW). They approach it all with energy, some abandon, and an underlying wit that gives it the boost past the rest of the pack. This record will place this band in the ranks of Hedningarna and the late great Filarfolket as Sweden's next guard of folk fusionists.


FLÄSKKVARTETTEN
Parlor Från Svin

MVG Records/MNW

Fläskkvartetten (The Flesh Quartet) have taken the idea of contemporary string quartet and carried it to extremes Kronos never considered. They have rattled through pop songs with Scandinavian stars, torched Arabic tunes and added percussion and electronics, both via extra musicians and by altering and abusing their own instruments. While previous recordings have definitely tried to position themselves in the rock or "hard music" field, this new one is daringly different.

The recording is an adaptation of the music for the Norwegian film, "Eggs." There is a variety of moods through the work that gives the band new challenges, forces them to define new textures both large and small. These seeming constraints of mood have brought out a remarkable new side to the group, who for the first time finds silence and space new tools to add to their already well established arsenal of percussive havoc and electric power.

Flaskkvartetten: Try to imagine a string quartet (which they are) playing slow-paced heavy metal with an Arabic flavor, and you begin toget the idea behind "White Christ" b/w"I Am TheWalrus" and their earlierLP What'sYourPleasure. (Mistlur, Box 19003,10432 Stockholm, Sweden


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Many of these recordings are available from cdRoots

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