The Best Nordic Folk Music – Part 1

Nordic films and culture have always had a minimalist aspect to it, and the architecture shows clean lines which reflects upon the music that the associated countries produce. When we talk about Nordic culture we tend to talk about Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, and the common threads these countries have on influence Nordic music as a whole. Today we see a resurgence in ancient ballads coming to the fore in popular music, but brought into the modern world with a new fashion and sense of style. In this blog we take a look at the current new batch of Nordic musicians who are currently making waves.

Steindor Andersen & Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson

Icelandic ballads, or rimur as they are known, go back many centuries right in the old pagan roots of this small country. In later years when religion was formed, there were great battles between the church wishing to ban these old songs.

The Icelandic people held strong to their old heroes and gods and rimur was passed down through families and friends. Today Steindor Andersen is once again holding the torch for rimur singing and music. He has brought this ancient form of singing into the mainstream popular music of Iceland and has successfully collaborated with a host of stars such as indie musician Sigur Ros. Perhaps his best known album was with Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson who also happens to be the high priest of the Asatru fellowship, which is the modern form of the Nordic pagan religion. The album features many songs based around ancient poetry, many themes are about living in harmony with the modern world.

Torgeir Vassvik & Frikar

A fascinating form of Nordic music is called Sami joik, and it is very similar to throat singing. The Sami tribe have been singing this way as far as people can remember. The Sami are a nomadic people who tend herds in the northern parts of the area. This peculiar raspy sound from the throat carries far and wide in the barren lands and windswept landscape of the Arctic. Vassvik was born in the northern reaches of Norway and is an acclaimed Sami Singer who has been collaborating with fellow musicians to revive this great traditional way of making music.

Eivor

The Faroe Islands are about as remote and desolate as you can get, and it is quite surprising that singer songwriter Eivor Palsdottir has broken into the mainstream pop industry of Europe and Scandinavia. The upcoming video game God of War is set to make her career explode.

The video is based around Norse mythology and Eivor sings the main theme. She grew up with Faroese folk music but there were also classical influences too, and Eivor can write music in Danish or English but the talented musician often sings in her own Faroese language. Her 2015 album entitled, Slor demonstrated this singing style along with dark Nordic electronic beats. We continue our exploration of the best Nordic music and singers in part two of this blog, where we look at Hamradun, Jullie Hjetland and Anne Hytte.