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Gjallarhorn


Country of origin:

Finland

Type of music generally:

Lively traditional music

Status:

Most recent release, Rimfaxe (2006)

See also:

Gjallarhorn's site

Wikipedia's entry on Gjallarhorn

Comparisons:

Garmarna, Hedningarna, Malicorne, Cordelia's Dad

Covers/own material:

Traditional

General comments:

They are a Finnish folk music group from the Swedish-speaking west coast of Finland. Even though their music is based on the same Scandinavian ballads and dances as Garmarna's, the sound of the two bands couldn't be much more different. Gjallarhorn are completely acoustic, and much, much mellower and ethereal than Garmarna. Many of their songs have a dreamy sound, sometimes sounding almost ambient, while others are more dancey. Some songs have been turned into mystical, acoustic soundscapes where the lead singer, Jenny Wilhelms', voice harmonizes with a droning didgeridoo (which is used quite extensively and effectively on the album to complement their sound) and traditional Scandinavian instruments. Jenny Wilhelms has a high, keening voice (beautiful, too, in my opinion, but some might disagree). The lyrics are mostly mythological, based on Norse tradition (one song in Finnish, the rest in Swedish). I must say I personally prefer Garmarna's heavier, gloomier (quite different) sound, but Gjallarhorn is certainly worth checking out. Highly recommended if you like Nordic folk music. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Lively, fiddle-, digderidoo- and percussion-heavy songs with great, great vocals. Fans of Garmarna, Hedningarna, Malicorne, and Cordelia's Dad should take note—this has a similar flavour and is just as compelling. (Neile)

Garmarna fans should definitely check them out—very much like Garmarna with a didgeridoo. (jjhanson@att.net)

Gjallarhorn are actually the band that first got me interested in Scandinavian folk, and they're very fun. Garmarna is a pretty good comparison, but I'd say that they're a fair deal more percussive than Garmarna (although nowhere near the level of stuff like Hedningarna). (iclysdal@redmaple.yi.org)

Gjallarhorn was definitely a musical highlight of the Folk Alliance festival I saw them at. Gjallarhorn are from Finland, but they mix the traditional singing with interesting percussion and didgeridoo. They were a remarkable presence. (neal)

Comments about live performance:

Jenny Wilhelms' voice worked even better live than on record, especially on the more upbeat songs. And the band worked very well as a whole, too, so the show was very enjoyable, and my appreciation for the band grew considerably after seeing them live. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Recommended first album:

ranarop/call of the sea witch

Recordings:


ranarop/call of the sea witch

Release info:

1997—Finlandia Records (Warner Music Finland)—0630-19627-2

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of updated traditional music

Group members:

Jenny Wilhelms—lead vocals, fiddles
Jakob Frankenhaeuser—didgeridoo, percussion, mandola, vocals
Christopher Öhman—viola, fiddle, mandola, vocals
David Lillkvist—percussion

Guest artists:

Okay Temiz—tablas, darabouka, finger cymbals, slagverk, percussion
Tomas Höglund—backing vocals
Marcs Söderström

Produced by:

Vincent Högberg & Gjallarhorn

Comments:

I've had Ranarop for a while now, and it's grown on me quite a bit. Highly recommended if you like Nordic folk music. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Fans of Garmarna and of early Malicorne, rejoice! Here is something you will love—lively new traditional music with didgeridoo and plaintive vocals. (Neile)


Sjofn

Release info:

2000—NorthSide Records (U.S.); Institute of Finland-Swedish Traditional Music (Finland)

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of updated traditional music

Group members:

Jenny Wilhelms—vocals, fiddle, hardangerfiddle
Christopher Öhman—viola, mandola, vocals, kalimba
Tommy Mansikka-Aho—didgeridoo, slideridoo, Jew's harp, udu. djembe
David Lillkvist—percussion (udu, djembe, darabuka, congas, bongos, shamantrumma framdrum, shakers, snaredrum, tomtoms, bassdrums, cymbals, triangle, surdo, cowdrum, chimes, tambourine), kalimba

Guest artists:

Sara Puljula—double bass on 3 tracks

Produced by:

Gjallarhorn and Martin Kantola

Comments:

This is very like Ranarop, their first disc, which I also really liked. For fans of the more quiet side of Garmarna (but still very lively, just not as electronic). Wonderful vocals, great musicianship. I'm sure they'd be terrific live. The songs here are a wonderful collection of traditional material—the stories make me wish I understood Swedish—with African drums and didgeridoo. It all comes together and makes for a fascinating, visceral sound. (Neile)

Rimfaxe

Release info:

2006—Windauga Music—CD87130

Availability:

Scandinavia; U.S. versoin forthcoming

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of updated traditional music

Group members:

Jenny Wilhelms—vocals, fiddles
Petter Berndalen—percussion
Adrian Jones—viola, mandola
Göran Mânsson—sub contrabass recorder, flutes, recorders

Produced by:

Martin Kantola

Comments:

Intense and haunting music. When the booklet mentioned that Scandinavian folk had its roots in Georgian chants, this really clicked for me. While this isn't at all solemn music (though it is frequently dark—check the stories as described in the booklet!) there's an element of reverence but also of vocal energy. These are lovely songs, and this is a terrific album. As always the musicanship is impressive. Highly recommended. (Neile)

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