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Garmarna Garmarna album cover
4.40 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews | 14% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lill-Mats polska / Little Mats Polska (2:42)
2. Skenpolska / Seeming Polska (3:34)
3. Jordbyggarlåten / Earth-Diggers Song (2:34)
4. Herr Olof / Sir Olof (3:51)
5. Trånpolska / Pining Polska (3:52)
6. Cow-call from Hälsingland (0:43)
7. Klevabergselden / Kleveberg's Fire (3:38)

Bonus tracks:
8. Garmgny / Garm's Bark (2:22)
9. Flusspolska / Tonsilitis Polska (1:41)
10. Månpolskan / Moon's Polska (3:46)
11. Antiokia / Antioch (2:29)
12. Skenpolska (3:17)
13. Klevabergselden (3:17)

Total Time: 37:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Stefan Brisland-Ferner / violins, viola, hurdy-gurdy, programming, guitar
- Emma Härdelin / lead vocals
- Jens Höglin / drums and percussion
- Gotte Ringqvist / luteguitar, guitar, violin
- Rickard Westman / guitar, e-bow, bass

Releases information

CD Massproduktion MASS CDS-54 (1993)
CD reissued with additional tracks, Northside Records NSD 6056 (2001)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to clemofnazareth for the last updates
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GARMARNA Garmarna ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GARMARNA Garmarna reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This mini album has some really fine archaic ethnic music on it. The sounds are dominated by violins and acoustic guitars, and the presence of amplified instruments and electronic treatments are revealed more clearly by the instrumentation list than the music itself. The songs are basically improvisational runs restricted by pre-defined rhythmic and melodic themes, so this music should appeal to the listeners of jazzy and psychedelic music in addition to the adorers of traditional folk music. The melodic diversity, human presence borne from the singer and acoustic instruments fill the songs with human emotion, and after playing this to my friends I would claim it being both accessible and intriguing for those searching heavier musical content from the atavist droning's. I believe the musicians were possibly students of the field, or some other impulse immersed them to focus so purely to the ancient traits of their musical cultural heritage. Originally the songs were relating to practical actions of calling back herd from the pastures, or allowing peasants to dance and hear similarly tales with life teachings or conceptions of past events. Some of the used ancient Scandinavian scales resemble quite much Arabic harmonies, and though the roots of the music are in Swedish folk music, and observed through the viewpoints of European classical music and modern Western popular music, there is a peculiar exotic feeling of the East sensed here. These polskas could be seen as North-Western ragas, supporting the universalism of man's efforts in creation of music and the collective unconscious.

After long search I found the extended CD of the EP, allowing the broad vision to this album I really have grown to adore. The later releases of the group moved towards more contemporary grounds by fusing the traditional songs with modern electronic music. I personally liked these warmer acoustic sounds on this first release, and it has truly deep and powerful emotional potential in it. Though their later releases have some nice songs in them too, this is still the singular album I would really recommend from this band to anybody charmed by pagan folk music.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars In what is probably a misguided attempt to get back to the ‘roots’ I never actually knew I’ve been dabbling in Scandinavian folk music lately, and particularly Swedish which is where my ancestors somewhere in the distant past extricated themselves from when they headed west across the big pond to Kansas. And being a proglodyte it seemed like progressive folk was a good place to start.

Unfortunately I can’t find a whole lot of information about Garmarna’s debut EP, at least not much that is in English. The liner notes of this Northside Records reissue isn’t much help either, as it lists the tracks in Swedish and English along with the player credits, but little else. It’s not surprising that a Minnesota label would be the one to reissue this considering the huge numbers of people of Scandinavian descent in that area.

The band has apparently been successfully in and around their homeland with their more recent records that blend sequenced digital sounds with traditional instruments and a sort of pseudo-medieval sound. But this first record isn’t that: in fact, all the instrumentation is acoustic, and many of the tracks are instrumentals. Most of those appear to be some variant of traditional Swedish polskas, or folk dances. The rhythms are smooth and even and the meters fairly simple but the strings are strident and rather harsh, evoking a mood of the stark and cold Nordic countryside in winter.

Not that this is a bad thing; indeed, the earthiness and pallid emotion becomes quite seductive, but I have to admit it took several spins for this music to start to grow on me.

Of the first seven tracks from the original 1993 Massproduktion EP release three are traditional polskas that sound quite similar, rather short with those harsh strings (violin, viola, lute and bouzouki) along with sporadic jew’s harp and some acoustic guitar. “Jordbyggarlåten” (Earth-digger’s Song) is also a traditional tune, but is a bit softer with strumming acoustic guitar and more violin, almost classical; while yet another folk tune “Herr Olof” features wide-ranging vocals from guest musician Emma Härdelin (who would join the band following the release of this EP). The final track from the original EP is “Klevabergselden” (Kleveberg's Fire), another dance-inspired instrumental written by lutist/guitarist Gotte Ringqvist and multi-instrumentalist Stefan Brisland- Ferner who also employs a hurdy-gurdy here.

The rest of the reissue CD apparently comes from 1992 demo recordings by the band. These tracks are much more animated and upbeat, with noticeably more percussion, some sequenced programming sounds, and extended hurdy-gurdy and violas passages. Most of these were written by Brisland-Ferner or guitarist/bassist Rickard Westman according to the liner notes, although the last two (“Skenpolska” and “Klevabergselden”) are not attributed on the album and sound as if they too are traditional tunes. All the bonus demo tracks are instrumentals, and the production quality is a bit less lush than the original EP tracks, but overall they seem to add to the old-time folk feel of this album.

What little else I’ve heard of these guys is closer to the mainstream of modern folk, and much of it even crosses into an almost dance music area; but this first recording is very conservative, traditional, and quite beautiful. As a folk music fan I am quickly growing to love this record, although as a prog nut I have to say that these guys are probably an acquired taste and may not be for everyone, and especially not for neo or metal fans. If you fit those descriptions you probably won’t be impressed; otherwise, I’d highly recommend this one and give it four stars without much reservation.


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