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Väsen is a group of four of Sweden's best musicians who have, between them, been featured with dozens of Swedish and international groups, ranging from nyckelharpa orchestras and Swedish traditional bands to the Kronos Quartet and the chart-topping folk-rock band Nordman. Väsen's music is a uniquely beautiful combination of the traditional sounds of the viola and nyckelharpa (a keyed fiddle unique to Sweden), and the more modern sounds of alternatively tuned 12-string guitar and percussion ensemble. Combining jazz, classical, dance, and folk elements, Väsen manages at once to be delicate and intensely energetic.
Väsen began when founding members, nyckelharpist Olov Johansson and violist Mikael Marin, met as teenagers in 1980 and began to play together. In 1989, they hooked up with guitarist Roger Tallroth in Roros, Norway. The three played all night, and in the early morning hours of the next day when they finished were offered a record contract by the Swedish label Drone. The resulting first album was actually released under Johansson's name and entitled Väsen, but when fans began mistakenly calling Drone asking about Väsen the group, the musicians realized that the name had established itself and decided to refer to themselves as Väsen from then on. Drummer Andre Ferrari joined Väsen as an occasional member in 1994 while they were on tour with Nordman. By 1996 he had become a permanent member of the group.
In the mid-'90s, Drone would release three more Väsen albums, highlights of which were released as a single volume on NorthSide, Spirit. This 1997 album was their American debut. 1997's Whirled, also put out by NorthSide, garnered a lot of critical attention and helped introduce Väsen to the American public. Gront, the band's sixth album, was released in 1999.