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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

PREMIERE: FRÄNDER Release New Music Video Svarta Sparvens Sorg (The Sorrow of the Black Sparrow)

By Stevie Connor.

Brothers Gabbi and Daniel Dluzewski and sister Natasja Dluzewska grew up in the village of Håga, one of Scandinavia's great Viking strongholds during the Bronze Age. The area, near the city of Uppsala, was once a rich archeological trove of gold artifacts from the 900 BC tomb of King Björn before looters robbed it of that distinction, but treasures of a different sort still remain: the enduring riches of Nordic oral and musical traditions. From those deep roots, from the musicians' various intensive musicological studies, and from their shared passion for popular music, the inspiration for a new modern acoustic music began to take shape, and in 2015 FRÄNDER was born.

The group’s second album, FRÄNDER II, is like nothing else heard on the folk or world music scene, pushing stylistic boundaries and proving FRÄNDER to be among today’s most trendsetting Scandinavian bands. They make a personal imprint on the nordic sound of folk music and their music is hauntingly evocative, with subtle echoes of Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and even the Beatles blending seamlessly with sounds from both Swedish and Estonian traditional music. While their compositions are original, their interpretation of traditional music in a rock idiom calls to mind the brilliant work of Fairport Convention vis a vis English folk music. Sometimes dubbed "heavy folk," despite the fact that they’re playing acoustic instruments, FRÄNDER’s music rocks!

FRÄNDER comment: "Listening to our debut album you can hear that everything’s already there - our personal expression, the intricate arrangements and the beautiful melodies. With FRÄNDER II we took it further, not caring so much of labeling the music, but with the ambition to challenge what's considered folk music and placing us on the outskirts of the tradition. We’re still playing acoustic instruments, but heavier, with a modern sound and influences far beyond the folk scene. This is how we heard it in our heads all along!"

The three siblings formed FRÄNDER together with Estonian Säde Tatar, later to become Gabbi’s wife. They shared the idea of a musical haven where they could create music never heard before and develop both individually and as a group. One summer’s evening when the thunder was rumbling and the storm was howling through the valley of Håga, Säde played and sang traditional spells of her Estonian homeland. Everybody around her got enchanted and felt like it was the ancestors and the rock ‘n’ roll gods making a common cause, showing FRÄNDER the way. And in that moment they knew they had to create a bridge between the sacred lands of Håga and Estonia.

FRÄNDER comment: "We are energized by, and find creative freedom within the expressive modern sound of nordic traditional music. But we have never been interested in merely reproducing the past, instead we strive to find new ways back into the future."

Another bridge the group built for the new album was generational, as they enlisted veteran percussionist Björn Tollin, a founding member of Sweden's Hedningarna who had revolutionized the Nordic folk scene in the 90s with his drums. He hasn’t recorded an album since the critically acclaimed first album of BOOT "Virvla", but upon hearing FRÄNDER he said, "I have never heard anything like this!" -- and came enthusiastically onboard.

"We don’t like to be stuck in any one genre. For us that also means not to mix genres heedlessly. Instead it's important for us to unnoticeably blend them together - like a soup or a stew. That’s why we chose to work with people who are experienced in other musical fields - but not necessarily tied to the doctrines of traditional Swedish music," says Gabbi.

To this end, flautist Säde Tatar continues, "We composed and recorded FRÄNDER II throughout the pandemic, selecting Daniel Bergstrand as engineer and co producer -- maybe Sweden's most-hired producer for metal. We were the first band to record in 33, a completely new and high-end-extra-everything studio in Stockholm, built by guitarist Fredrik Thorndendal of the legendary metal band Meshuggah."

With Gabbi on Swedish mandola, Daniel on double bass, Natasja on violin and lead vocals, Säde on flute, and Björn joining on drums and percussion, FRÄNDER's music is commanding and intensely spirited but at the same time nuanced and mystical, its melodies and rhythms strongly evoking the magical beauty of their northern woodlands and their deep cultural roots. And – it really rocks!

FRÄNDER II will be available on all platforms 20 October through Germany's Nordic Notes label in tandem with Six Degrees Label Services in North America.



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