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Karelia Visa

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Album Review

Karelia Visa is Hedningarna's fifth original album (they also had a compilation called Fire). The title refers to a passport to the region of Russia called Karelia, which the Soviets took from Finland after WWII. The region is still ethnically and culturally Finnish, and the group (which consists of two female Finnish singers and three male Swedish instrumentalists) visited the area to collect some folk tunes. This album is the result. Perhaps because the musicians were moved by their contact with a living tradition, Karelia Visa is much closer to straight folk than the group's previous efforts, which could fairly be pigeonholed as Scandinavian techno-goth. Here, the "techno" part, while present, is much further in the background. The "gothic" part is still at hand, but is allowed to speak for itself instead of being melodramatically exaggerated. This approach is especially effective on a song like "Ukkonen (Thunder God)" which is chanted lyrics and repeated instrumental motifs that might or might not be sampled. Not all the songs are dreary gothic pieces: "Metsän Tyttö (Forest Maiden)" with cheery lines passed back and forth between the singers, a raspy-keyed fiddle, and a plucky jaw harp, is positively happy-go-lucky. Every track is something interesting, and even the darker numbers are so well-crafted that they're never depressing. In Karelia Visa the members of Hedningarna seem to have reached a maturity, proving that they are capable of producing music that is solid and not just showy. This is a great album for any fan of Scandinavian music.

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Sweden

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The Nordic group Hedningarna was formed in Sweden by multi-instrumentalists Anders Stake, Björn Tollin and Hållbus Totte Mattsson; although the group's self-titled 1989 debut LP was an instrumental effort, by the release of 1992's Kaksi!, Finnish vocalists Sanna Kurki-Suonio and Anita Lehtola had joined the lineup. Trä followed in 1994, and two years later Hedningarna returned with Fire. Subsequent releases include 1997's Hippjokk and 1999's Karelia...
Full Bio
Karelia Visa, Hedningarna
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  • $16.90
  • Genres: World, Music, Europe
  • Released: 07 January 1999

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