Heavy folk band Gåte release their fifth album, Nord.
It has been more than twenty years since Gåte first got together in Norway. They have released eight previous recordings – four each of EPs and LPs. The music is what I call acoustic doom. I am also at peace with doom folk as a label. The musicians are Gunnhild Sundli (vocals and violin), Magnus Børmark (guitar, vocals, and percussion), Sveinung Sundli (Hardanger fiddle, organ, vocals, and percussion) Jon Even Schærer (percussion and vocals).
“Solfager og Ormekongen” has the sound of a soft and soulful tale with persistent tamping percussion, organic huffing in the background, strings, and the occasional impression of woodland creatures. The English translation of the title is “Solfager and the Worm King” and there is a detailed description of the story, too, in the press materials. It is nice to read, and certainly interesting, but it also a little like cheating since I will never understand the lyrics when I hear them sung. Whenever I hear songs in a language I do not know, the vocal becomes a pure instrument with only the literal sound and the emotional expression that comes through the presence of the singer’s voice. It is an incomplete experience but it is also an unclouded one.
I love Gunnhild Sundli’s voice and, listening to it without narrative understanding, I am nonetheless transfixed. This is not metal, not even folk metal. And yet, listen to “Rideboll og Gullborg” and tell me it is not heavy in tone and deep in ponderment. Like doom music. The folk setting and the use of traditional instruments, especially the heavy reliance on percussion, changes the perspective and style, but does not disturb the seriousness or the depth of emotion. To me, it is enthralling. Recommended.
Nord is out on Friday, December 3rd through Indie Recordings. Bandcamp is the place to go in the US for an easy acquisition.
Indie Recordings, https://shop.indierecordings.no/