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Albums | Garmana, Förbundet

Op 6 november zag het zevende studio album van de Zweedse folk rock band Garmarna het levenslicht. Het album Förbundet is, zoals we gewend zijn van Garmarna een geweldige combinatie van moderne geluiden en traditionele Scandinavische folk.

Vanaf het eerste nummer is Förbundet een fijne mix van moderne, traditionele en vooral meeslepende muziek. De nummers hebben een hoog meewiebel- en dansgehalte. De deuntjes blijven in je hoofd hangen en eigenlijk, ondanks dat de muziek heel modern aanvoelt, kan je je ogen sluiten en je in een episch gevecht tussen de vikingen wanen.

Förbundet is zekers niet eentonig en de nummers blijven de aandacht opeisen. Elk nummer is weer een nieuw avontuur verteld door traditionele instrumenten, moderne sounds en de fantastische stem van Emma Hardelin.

Echte aanraders op het album zijn het eerste nummer Ramunder en het vierde nummer Sven i Rosengård.

Ramunder opent het album heerlijk stevig en opzwepend. Het gevoel dat je bij het intro van dit nummer krijgt zet de toon voor het hele album. De combinatie van folk, rock, een hintje trance en een goede geluidseffecten maakt dit nummer heel sterk.

Sven i Rosengård is juist het tegenovergestelde van Ramunder. Het begint met enkel zang en geeft eigenlijk direct een echt folkgevoel. Echter hoe verder je in het nummer komt, hoe meer het een episch verhaal begint te worden. Het nummer zou niet misstaan als een soundtrack van een grootse film over het Scandinavische leven.

Na meerdere luisterbeurten kan ik alleen maar tot de conclusie komen dat Garmarna met Förbundet een zeer sterk album aflevert. Het is goed gemixt, het is muzikaal goed opgebouwd, de nummers staan als een huis en het totaalplaatje werkt gewoon.

Releasedatum: 6 november 2020




It is very easy to tout a band's eclecticism in our modern era of musical mash-ups and globe-spanning Zoom collaborations. But Swedish folk-rockers Garmana have been turning traditional ideas on their head long before it was fashionable. Over the last 30 years, they have been stirring in a rich blend of influences that create their unique sonic blend. For their efforts, they have won a Swedish Grammy award, gained the respect and collaboration of esteemed musicians in their homeland, and cultivated an international following.

Garmana originally formed as a trio in 1990 featuring guitarist/violinist Gotte Ringqvist, violinist/hurdy gurdy player Stefan Brisland-Ferner, and guitarist/bassist Rickard Westman. After a couple of years of growing their music and audience, they accured drummer Jens Hoglin after being asked to perform at a prominent musical festival in Hultsfred, Sweden. Their friend, singer, and violinist Emma Hardelin was in the audience, and she soon joined their ranks. The line-up has remained solid since then.

After releasing their self-titled debut EP in 1993, Garmana toured Sweden and began developing energetic live shows that in subsequent years have inspired everything from dancing to headbanging. Amid her bandmates, Emma became the calm of the storm onstage, her beautiful vocals an anchor for their energetic music. “Emma has a very distinct and beautiful voice,” notes Stefan.” The choices we made early on were traditional ballads that tell a story. The vocal is delivering information and cannot stand in the way of the story, and the instrumentation and arrangements must help to tell the story. The vocal will always be in the center of our music.”

By 1994, Garmana signed a North American distribution deal with Minneapolis-based Omnium, the label founded by Boiled In Lead bassist Drew Miller who has a passion for eclectic world music and punk-folk tunes. Omnium released 'Vittrad' (1994) and 'Gods Musicians' (1995), and their sister label Northside unleashed 'Vengeance' (1999) and 'Hildegard Von Bingen' (2001). Now 25 years later, Garmana is on Season of Mist, the international metal label that is starting to explore the dark folk world.

“We have certainly crossed a few boundaries,” acknowledges Stefan. “We did so quite early and found our own world from which to expand further. Maybe this was luck. Or maybe we are good at finding the right balance between the elements. Again, this wasn’t something we ever strived for.” He adds that at one point, they found a certain tone in our music that resonated with the tones of their other tastes.

“The lyrical specter of the classical world,” he elaborates. “The terror of industrial and black metal. Country music, indie pop, rock’n’roll. At the time, artists like Beck and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had a great impact on our thinking. Björk, Skinny Puppy, Bowie, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and lots of other artists from different genres were big heroes for us as well.”

What linked the band members together was their passion for traditional Swedish fiddler’s music and folk singing. “We don’t think of music as genres but rather like emotions, colours, elements,” explains Stefan. Despite their sonic deviations, they have always felt they have a specific sound, and an American magazine in '99 compared Garmana's music to a nicely marinated stew, a comparison they favored.

Cooking up this musical melange was not a conscious choice in the beginning. Their collective eclecticism naturally led the way for their folk fusion. “Using samplers particularly was some-thing that felt just aesthetically right,” says Stefan. “We could use layers of drones and re-pitch stuff, use both old and new sounds that fitted the songs.”

Throughout their career, the band has taken many interesting journeys, including music inspired by the medieval work of Hildegard von Bingen and a New Year's Eve '99 performance in which Emma performed a song exclusively written by Benny Andersson of ABBA. They have played at medieval, folk, and rock festivals. While the group did take a 15-year break from recording – family and work commitments, a little creative burn out after years of the tour/album/tour cycle, plus the illegal downloading woes of the early '00s factoring into this studio hiatus – they maintained their chops and passion by continuing to tour.

When asked about how fans have responded to their different influences and diverse output over the years, Stefan cannot definitively say because their followers are seemingly fluid in their tastes as well. “Sometimes we’ve thought the audience will hate the new stuff, all jungle beats or house or pop or whatever,” he says. “The audience is a mix of metal heads, folk enthusiasts, hipsters, and just casual music lovers of all ages. Along the way, they have seemed to like what we do! We know that a lot of people wished the return album 6 would have been a bit more traditional, but then a lot of people also praised it for being 'so much Garmana' in the sense that it took an unexpected turn somewhere new.”

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