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Gjallarhorn: Ranarop – Call of the Sea Witch

Finnish folk music, a unique variant in the Nordic cultural sphere, is an endangered species, but has hardly vanished. As with many a folk tradition around the world, there will always be listeners and musicians with an ear for roots running deep. Acoustic purity and roots-consciousness emboldens the cause of the young Finnish group calling itself Gjallarhorn (a mythic horn in Nordic mythology related to Heimdal, the gatekeeper god), whose repertoire includes ancient minuets and waltzes from Ostrobothnia. On their new CD, Ranarop-Call of the Sea Witch (Finlandia/Atlantic 0630; 57:35), the group twists purity slightly, inserting the Australian didgeridoo into the mix, but its ritualistic resonance enhances the whole and renders the question of topographical origin moot. Mostly, the musical framework here revolves around the earthy fiddling of Christopher Ohman and Jenny Wilhelms, who also lends an understated, clarion voice in singing traditional folk tunes in Swedish (one of the languages common in Finland). The music reminds us of Celtic strains, broadly, but mainly espouses the particular song and myth world of the Nordic global corner.

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