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Gjallarhorn Grimborg album cover
3.04 | 6 ratings | 4 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1 Konungadöttrarna (The King's Daughters) (4:55)
2. Grimborg (4:03)
3. Tora Lille (Little Tora) (4:01)
4. Polonaise (3:44)
5. Menuett (Minuet/Njawara) (2:09)
6. Menuett (Minuet/Njawara) (2:42)
7. Herr Olof (Sir Olof) (5:38)
8. Ella Lilla (Dear Ella) (5:13)
9. Ack Lova Gud (Oh, Praise the Lord) (4:27)
10. Frøysnesen / Soteroen (4:35)
11. Vallevan (4:31)
12. Kulning (Cow Calling) (5:30)
13. Längtaren (2:58)

Total Time: 54:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Jenny Wilhelms / vocals, fiddle, hardangerfiddle
- Adrian Jones / viola, mandola
- Tommy Mansikka-Aho / slideridoo, jew's harps, shaman drum, berimbau
- Sara Puljula / double bass, framedrums, tambourines, udu, djembe and other ethnic percussion

other musicians:
- Patrick Lax / percussion, drumkit, djembe
- David Lillkvist / marimba, tympani, shaman drum, snare, bass drum, china cymbals, framefrum, sleighbells, tambourine tremolo, djun-djun, sabar, tama, toms and tam-tam
-Ian Blake / soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano recorder

Releases information

CD NorthSide 6070 (2002)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Neu!mann for the last updates
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Northside Records 2002
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GJALLARHORN Grimborg ratings distribution

(6 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (17%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GJALLARHORN Grimborg reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This third long player of the Finnish-Swede world music group was my first encounter with them. They combine Scandinavian folk music with more exotic oriental musical elements like didgeridoos, djembes and such, creating pleasant musical patterns and an enchanting realm of sounds. Jenny Willhelms' gentle voice is soothing thing to listen to, and often violin driven melodic numbers are enriched with thick layers of percussions, making the music being quite strong and drawing all of the listener's concentration. There are both uplifting and melancholic constructed traditional songs here, and few more ethereal atmospheric numbers like a cow-call and didgeridoo solo number. For a comparison to something else, this album sounded slightly as a more tamer and sophisticated version of Garmarna's first EP to me. The rawness of that album pleased me little more than this record, but nevertheless "Grimborg" is still also very good and a recommendable album, and the other albums of Gjallarhorn are on my listening queue. As an anecdote, there's a similar "hidden picture illusion" in the inner sleeve of the album cover, like in the Änglagård's "Epilog" cover, forming a vision of a face appearing from a forest landscape.
Review by Matti
3 stars This is not prog folk, not even ethnic pop/rock or 'world music' which means basically pop music with ethnic elements. This is pure ethno music, played by ethnic instruments (fiddle, hardangerfiddle, shaman drum, didgeridoo, berimbau, tambourine, udu, djembe, viola, mandola etc) and songs are based on old traditional Nordic tunes. To me it's not clear on what ground Gjallarhorn is included in PA while ethno is generally out of question. Well, they bring together instruments from various corners of the world, all ethnic though. The problem lies in unequality: why one or two well-known ethno groups are here and others aren't? And it's also a question of credibility: to call this Prog Folk gives false expectations about the music. I'm not VERY much into ethnic or world music, but I'm sure there are lots of 'world' bands even more suitable into PA than Gjallarhorn. At least PIIRPAUKE (world music/jazz/art rock) would be a good addition, right?.

End of lecture. Gjallarhorn is pretty good music and it's after all always great to find different kinds of music to listen to. So I'm definitely not saying Gjallarhorn shouldn't be here, instead I'd add lots of groups from various music genres (which ARE to be crossed over!!) and invent more honest subgenres for them.

This band is from my country, Finland - Swedish speaking parts of it, and their musical roots are Scandinavian. One ethno artist I've listened to is Swedish Lena Willemark and this sounded very much similar. I 'found' her via HECTOR ZAZOU, who makes very interesting albums with a large number of guest singers from Björk to Laurie Anderson. (Pardon my advertisement.) Gjallarhorn's vocalist Jenny Wilhelms has equally clear and strong voice just perfect to evoke images of vast untouchable landscapes with mountains, lakes and fjords.

The leaflet has introductions to songs in Swedish, English and French. One example: "Based on a medieval ballad from Sweden, about the King who dresses up as a sailor and steals away the girl he loves, then takes her out on the high seas to see if she tryly loves him, before he reveals his real status. She is furious but very convincing about her true affection." The sound is dominated by fiddles and rich percussion. If I would dive deeper into Ethno, Gjallarhorn would be a very good starting point. And that it must have been to many people around the world. "With their dynamic world music arrangements Gjallarhorn has brought the old Nordic tonality to a modern audience in both the jazz, rock and world music field."

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars It’s either that Gjallarhorn’s novelty has worn thin with this, the second of their albums I’ve had a chance to hear, or it just isn’t as good as the first (‘Sjofn’). Probably a little of both.

The wide range of percussive instruments on ‘Sjofn’ aren’t quite as prevalent here, although Petter Berndalen, Adrian Jones and Tommy Mansikka all manage to put together plenty of ethnically distinctive sounds, particularly the odd African kalimba finger pianos and the jew’s harp. The single most prominent instruments on this album turn out to be the strings played by lead singer (actually, only singer) Jenny Willhelms and to a lesser extent by Jones. These are not melodic strings though, but rather strident ones that at times almost sound as if Willhelms and Jones are sawing at them rather than bowing.

The band also continues their earlier practice of setting the base of the rhythm with a didgeridoo, possibly a common thing in the Outback or wherever but something that seems a bit unusual for a Swedish Finn band.

There are also a lot more instrumental tracks here than their previous release (“Polonaise”, “Menuett”, “Kulning”, “Längtaren”) as well as “Njawara” which features what appears to be a didgeridoo solo – how often do you get a chance to hear that?

The band’s previous work also featured rather short tunes, although ‘Sjofn’ did manage to include a couple of seven-minute plus works. Not so here, where none of the tunes is longer than five and a half minutes and nearly half of them are shorter than four minutes. Not that size (or in this case length) is everything, but it does seem that instrumental-heavy tunes are not usually fully developed in such a short space, and that is certainly true of most of these songs.

The opening “Konungadöttrarna” and closing “Längtaren” are the most folk-sounding tracks here with slower tempos, traditional themes and conservatively simple arrangements. “Herr Olof” is similar but employs a bit more percussion and for some stretches of the tune manages to take on an almost dance beat. Come to think of it, it is a strange tune for an album like this.

Someone who previously reviewed the album compared them to Garmarna and I can definitely see how they would make that comparison, although Gjallarhorn has a much wider range of instruments and a more polished sound. But the big difference for me is that once I finally ‘got’ Garmarna I was definitely hooked on just about everything in their catalog; with Gjallarhorn that same connection hasn’t happened yet, and I’m inclined to think it isn’t going to. This is the kind of band you are likely to hear on conservative, traditional public radio shows and see at ivy-draped college campus shows on the green. They don’t strike me as a band that is as interested in progressing their sound as they are in preserving it. So that makes them good at what they do, but not necessarily recommended for progressive music fans. Three stars with an acknowledgement that Nordic folk fans will probably like them a bit more than that.


Review by Neu!mann
2 stars After releasing a career-defining album at the end of the last millennium ("Sjofn", 2000), the Gjallarhorn quartet banked their creative fires before recording a follow-up two years later, dialing back the spirited energy of the band's earlier efforts to near austerity levels. What happened to all those compelling ancient melodies, and the lively arrangements of Old Norse folk tunes?

A possible clue to the apparent lack of motivation can be found in the updated personnel roster, hinting at internal stresses which might have carried over into the studio. Percussion master David Lillkvist was demoted to a supporting role, and although he appears on most of the tracks his commanding presence is entirely absent. And Tommy Mansikka-Aho's distinctive slideridoo (a combination didgeridoo/trombone, capable of changing pitch) was likewise pushed too far into the background, only allowed one brief, funky solo spot on the album's shortest track, the West African inspired "Njawara".

The reconfigured instrumentation forced the melancholy hardanger fiddles and violas to carry the slack, mostly in support of Jenny Wilhelms' lovely voice, curiously restrained throughout these sessions. Another telling clue: Wilhelms would hereafter be credited as the band's Executive Producer, a duty previously shared by the entire group. I would never accuse her of becoming an autocratic bandleader like Roger Waters or Ian Anderson, but some vital spark of collaboration was obviously misplaced in the new alignment, and the loss is audible.

Of course I might be overreacting to the letdown that inevitably follows a near-masterpiece. The new album was praised around the globe, and won a coveted prize from the Académie Charles Cros. Arguably it's simply a more mature effort, although that's not an argument I'm willing to make. Fusty is a better word to describe the unremarkable music here, too self-conscious of its own sense of borrowed tradition, but without a memorable tune over the album's near one-hour length.

Sadly, the third time was not a charm.

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