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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 67 - 03/28/02

Warner Music

We've had a folk-rock movement in Norway ever since the popularity of British Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Lindisfarne etc. swept over the country in the early 70s. Folque and Kong Lavring were local heroes of the 70s and early 80s, Ym-stammen of the 80s and early 90s. Gåte (meaning Riddle or Enigma) is a young band that combines traditional Norwegian folk tunes with rock music and electrical instruments and has gained a lot of attention lately. EP is the quintet's second release and the first on a big label. "Grusomme Skjebne" (Cruel Faith) was also present on their first EP, but has been re-recorded here. It's an old song from the middle part of Norway, the region where the Gåte members live. It starts quiet and slow, almost like a hymn with techno beat and keyboards, until hell's let loose with heavy guitars. Then calm down again. Great! The heavy parts remind me of an upgraded version of aforementioned Folque; two levels of tradition here, if you know what I mean! Følgje (Follow or Company) is even heavier and closer to hell with a fiendish fiddle and nasty guitars. Spooky stuff they say themselves, but to me it seems they try a bit too hard. Especially the voice of young female vocalist Gunhild E. Sundli tends to sound affected in between. And the solo reminds of Brian Eno's solo on a Genesis song ("In The Cage") a long long time ago. "Liti Kjersti" (Little Kjersti) is the ballad of EP and beautiful it is with flying keyboards and exquisite guitars and vocals. Storås (Big Ridge - also the name of the village and studio where parts of EP were recorded) is an instrumental reel, so to speak compared to traditions of the British Isles. Well, it's a Norwegian folk dance of the heavy kind with Harding fiddle (the national traditional fiddle with two levels of four strings; the ones at the bottom only vibrate along with the four normal ones like some strings of the Indian sitar; making the Harding fiddle sound like you play the entire cat and not only cat gut strings, as the saying goes) and heavy-rock guitars to match. And it's another killer!

All in all EP doesn't sound quite as innovating as I expected before I heard it. Gåte certainly has developed a 30 years' tradition of Norwegian folk-rock, and succeeds. Though I suspect they might be even greater live.

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