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Kebnekajse - Kebnekaise III CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.87 | 49 ratings

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4 stars Do a little dance, make a little love - get down tonight. Swedish style!

Up here in the cold north, we have a very similar sounding folk music. Whether you travel to Sweden, Denmark or Norway - there are definite trademarks of an old kind of music that has been in existence for many many centuries. I've actually grown up on this music, and I remember my grandparents dancing along to this unique sounding waltz music quite clearly, and I guess it goes way back into my early childhood years. They were dressed up in traditional costumes - my grandmother wearing a red dress with some kind of apron on top of it. Wooden clogs on her feet - just like my grandpa, and all these other superfluous clothes items, which at the time seemed completely ridiculous to me, as they were on the verge of swinging wildly around on the dance floor. Keeping warm should be the least of their concerns, but what did I know? I clearly remember thinking to myself, that these two strange persons, whom both were part of my family - looked remarkably like Christmas elves, especially my grandpa, who always wore a red woollen pointy pixie hat.

Then the music started and you were instantly thrown into this wild riding violin lead folk ditty - catapulting the dancers into one another -twirling around themselves in some kind of human generated vortex. Bizarrely enough, that is about the best description I can think of regarding this very release. The music on Kebnekaise's third outing, aptly named lll, does the same sort of thing, and I find myself deeply immersed in these old mental pictures of frantic folk dancers twirling wildly about, each and every time I put it on. Yes the music is largely focused on the old Scandinavian folk music, and yes the violin sounds hectic and skewed, spiralling around itself - keeping the beat, yet there is so much more to this album than what meets the ear.

In a most alluring kind of way, Kebnekaise's albums never really sound the same. You'll probably pick up some subtle similarities suggesting that it's the same band, but each album has something new to say. Whereas the self-titled second album sponsored a distinct psychedelic feel to it, sounding like a decisively folky type of Krautrock to yours truly - this one elaborates on the folk tendencies. The first track Leksands brudmarsch is a perfect example of this natural progression. The musical theme is taken directly from a bridal march, though here it is heavily infused by congas and all around fuzzy and frenetic instrumentation. Like all the other tunes here which rely on old school Scandinavian folk thematics, the feel of the thing is somewhat split into the authentic vibe often coming from the duetting violin and guitar, and then what happens around it: a far more psychedelic and rhythmically enhanced pseudo psychedelic music that simply defies description. I guess we're back at those twirling dancers again...

Just like another Swedish band I reviewed not too long ago called Archimedes Badkar, you get the impression that Kebnekaise were trying to challenge the sonic framework of this old national music - adding African and Spanish percussions to the mix. Throwing some psychedelic fiery electric guitars in there - lighting things up nicely.

Then again, when you think you've got this album pinned down, it throws a piece like St. John at you, and alakazam! We're in Benny Hill country! Taking the role of soundtrack to one of England's favourite silent funny men, you're tempted to start all over in your pensive philosophizing about this band's true nature. Well don't you worry, because while this track delivers some brand new musical impressions, and you're most likely imagining this long train of people maniacally chasing Benny around the lawn - the emphasis on folk is still there, albeit in a slightly different dressing. Great you might say, - we finally hit the nail on the head and we can safely pop this mother up on the right shelf - stick this bun in the oven flick it on high and start worrying about dish washing, feeding the koala and other such important things. Hhhmm yeah well maybe not entirely, because when you get to the centrepiece of lll, the second bitch slap occurs. Full blown Krautrock all of a sudden pours out of the speakers. Sticky, gooey and slimy music shambling its way into unknown territories. The guitar takes the lead, the drums transform into old Indian callings - ghost dances - foggy soundscapes - confused expressive earthworm on its belly - emanating this soothing type of salute to the soil. Swoosh - and the worm is gone, maracas march on forward - what sounds like mandolins take off gently - persuading the music for a loftier climate - delivering some welcomed wings to the piece. All of this manufactured in true Krautrock style - focusing on jamming instrumental freedom. Goes without saying that this particular track, Balladen om björnbär och nätmelon (The Ballad of blackberries and Musk-melon), is my favourite out of the lot. I just love it - and I have this unbridled urge to lick it .

I know I've probably tainted this release in an unfair traditional folk light, but just remember that all this sonic candy comes across in a totally original way, which is both highly psychedelic as well as being extremely danceable. If it's been far too long since the last time you aired your wooden clogs to a good waltz, then by all means go ahead and get this. I promise you, you'll never look at a pair of clogs quite the same again - let alone that one true love of yours after the somewhat bizarre cheek-to-cheek you had during Polska från Bingsjö. Someone should probably have told you guys, that you were dancing to a polka....

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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