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Gåte – Til Nord Award winner

Til Nord
by Mark Machlay at 19 July 2021, 3:13 PM

Norwegian folk rockers GÅTE have gone back to their roots with their new Ep “Til Nord”, reinventing their old classics in a stripped-down acoustic fashion. The group was founded by violinist and keyboardist Sveinung Sundli, who recruited his younger sister Gunnhild to sing. With Sveinung’s violin and his sister’s unique folk singing technique – called “kveding” – their sound was firmly rooted in traditional music but added bass, drums and electric guitar to both complement and contrast their style. After two self-titled EP’s in 2001 and 2002 and their debut full-length “Jygir” in 2002, the band earned massive recognition in their home country. They won the Norwegian Grammy (“Spellemannprisen”) for best new band and were a hit on the music charts as they began work on their second album “Iselilja”, released in 2004. However as they started gaining international attention, the young sister, Gunnhild, explored other successful career paths such as acting and the band unfortunately would go on hiatus. Despite the hiatus, their live album “Liva” released in 2006 would still chart because of massive national success. A small reunion took place in 2009-2010 with a small concert and mini-tour of Norway before announcing their “final farewell”.

Then, out of the blue, GÅTE announced a 2017 tour followed by their third album “Svevn” in 2018. Now, the band is less interested in comfortably resting on their laurels, but instead is eager to break new artistic ground and flex their artistic muscles in a fascinating new path, illustrated by their new EP, “Til Nord”. They are diving deeper in the rich musical pedigree of their country by revisiting some of their old tunes and featuring a new track as an introduction to the new direction their sound will be taking. The band has added an archaic percussion style and used new acoustic instrumentation while singer Gunnhild has stripped a bit of the technical complexity of her singng style and informed more emphasis on folk attitude and expression. Stylistically, the group has shifted from the energetic folk rock they are famous for innovating and moved into a darker, more intimate, down-to-earth, Norse-centric folk expression.

“Til Nord” is a bit of a risk for GÅTE but considering their earlier history of experimentation, it is not an untrodden road for the band. The band may be labeled folk rock/metal but with their new EP, they tap into the purity of Norwegian cultural music and represent a vast landscape of their country in a wonderfully haunting manner. Grunnhild’s distinctive vocals stylings are both fragile in its delicate moments and overpoweringly moving as it opens up into its more spacious moments. The new Nordic ethno folk style that the band WARDRUNA has pioneered is evident as highly influential. The two traditional songs “Horpa” and softer “Til Deg” lets Grunnhild’s vocals stand out as her brother Sveinnung accompanies her on the pedal organ, in a very sparsely layered track allowing the listener the chance to experience the intimacy of the Nordic culture’s musical heritage. Without the electric instruments and drums, to long listeners of the band, the older songs can seem a bit empty but then the other three tracks may be more to your liking, especially “Rideboil Og Guilborg” which slowly increases in intensity towards the end of the track. Personally, the earlier experimentation was enjoyable at the time when I was young and hungry for heavier and more experimental music, but I find myself drawn in more deeply with this more intimate, stripped down discipline and look forward to more from GÅTE in this style.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Kjærleik
2. Hemnarsverdet
3. Horpa
4. Rideboll
5. Til deg
Gunnhild Sundli - Vocals
Magnus Børmark - Guitar, Vocals, percussion
Sveinung Sundli – Hardingfele, Violin, Pedal Organ, Vocals, and Percussion
Record Label: Indie Recordings


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