Hawks fly low over burned and beaten wastelands. Wolves keep watch from the dark edge of the woods.
Associations such as this from a mythic past are easy, when one listens to the dramatical musical picture that Hedningarna´s second album paints. Hypothetically, one can compare this album to a sound-track from the Swedish Middle Ages. The problem that occurs is that these illusions are too simple, almost carelessly contrived.
The truth of the matter is perfectly clear – this music is not dated. Despite their foundation being rooted in ancient Swedish and Nothern folkmusic – the result is fascinatingly impossible to categorize and pinpoint geographically or to time destinate.
The force behind it is rockmusic. The beauty is the chanson. The drama is nature itself. Here are moments of Balkan, of the Karelia and of the blues from Mississippi. Nevertheless, the ancient feeling of it is fascinatingly unclear.
Many people who have attempted to make folkmusic “modern” have thought that it was just enough to bring the instruments through electric amplifiers and then turn the volume controls up to eleven on a scale to one to ten. The result have, more often than not, been that everyone drowns out one another – without allowing anyone the freedom to act and come forward individually. Hedningarna do not make the same mistake.
With a totally unabashed attitude towards conventions within instrumentation, they do the exact opposite; they allow the epochs to run parallell. Hållbus Totte Mattsson, Anders Stake and Björn Tollin let the Swedish bagpipes, lutes and kettledrums keep the magic of their acoustic sound. However, they are, at the same time, resting on a minor key carpet of suggestive bassnotes – the fundemental bordunsounds – which are woven with the help of sequenserloops and samplers.
For a moment the reel is sweet and sensous and the next moment whipping kettledrums and thrillerlike fuzzguitars are exploding. Kalevala suddenly becomes Guns n´ Roses. And to top it off, the Finnish singers Sanna Kurki-Suonio and Tellu Paulasto break all the conceptions.
Excitingly fickle is the word! The conception of “World Music”, unfortunately has often been carelessly misused. This is true. However, I would never hesitate to call this music by its real name. I call it World Music.
Lars Nylin, journalist, 1992