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Hildegard von Bingen

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Album Review

During the '90s the new age crowd discovered Hildegard von Bingen, one of the first credited female composers, and gave her work their anemic treatment. Sweden's Garmarna right the balance by presenting the medieval mistress of song in a 21st century light, not always soft and romantic, but often hard, driven by programmed beats, with Emma Härdelin's eerie voice intoning von Bingen's Latin liturgical lyrics over the top. Conceived for a tour in 1998, this project has taken on a life of its own, something that might be not quite a full Garmarna album, but has plenty of their flavors. There's even a touch of Portishead-goes-to-Sweden in the trip-hoppy "Paso," the album's only original piece. But while this might not exactly be the next Garmarna release, there's a real cohesion to it. They've adapted the original works so well, transporting them to modern times but keeping the ancient feel — always one of their strengths, so that while von Bingen might have been rolling over in her grave from the ministrations of the wind-chime brigade, she's probably smiling broadly at this.


Formed: 1990 in Sweden

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Adding modern touches to traditionally based Swedish folk music has made Garmarna one of top groups of the Scandinavian Folk resurgence of the '90s. Their debut album, 1994's Vittrad, was nominated for a Swedish Grammy while their second album, 1996's Guds Speleman, received the Swedish Grammy award "Album of the Year." Released in the United States, the album placed high on the CMJ New Music chart. In late 1996, Guds Speleman reached the fifth posotion on a Top 25 list compiled by the Canadian...
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Hildegard von Bingen, Garmarna
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