Gjallarhorn / Grimborg
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To enter a grimborg in ancient Finnish ritual is to tread a stone maze with the hopes of rescuing the maiden in the center. On this third release from Gjallarhorn, they take us on a labyrinthine journey through the dark recesses of Nordic mythology. What they rescue is our faith in the power of music to transcend the mundane. The unfettered strains of the Hardanger fiddle wail over the growl of the didgeridoo and the jingle and thump of a slew of world percussion. Jenny Wilhelms' crystalline voice soars over it all.

They manipulate the acoustic sounds by using echo effects and bringing different tone colors back and forth in the mix. Well-placed dissonances give the sound an extra bite without sacrificing the almost liturgical purity of the vocals. The result is an air of wildness and mystery befitting the texts. On the lovely "Ack Lova Gud (Oh, Praise the Lord)," Wilhelms sings over a simple fiddle line. She gives the chorus of nonsense syllables a depth far beyond their meaning. In stark contrast is "Kulning (Cow Calling)." It's difficult to imagine these cows doing anything other than fleeing in terror from the fierce didg and shrieking vocals. Somewhere in between these two extremes are some robust dance tunes and mystical ballads. While the core of Grimborg is purely Scandinavian, the didgeridoo and percussion and the stirring arrangements give this one global appeal. - Peggy Latkovich

Available from cdRoots

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