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Edda Sånger (2019)

Part III: Runes & Rumours

1. Orð mér af orði

Othin‘s Rune-Chant (Odins Runenlied)

2. Ljóð ek þau kann

Songs I Know (Lieder kenn’ ich)

3. Vafþrúðnismál

The Song Of Vafthruthnir (Das Lied von Wafthrudnir)

4. Of rúnar heyrða ek dæma

Of Runes Heard I Words (Von Runen hört’ ich reden)

5. Hrafnagaldr

Othin‘s Raven-Chant (Odins Rabenzauber)

6. Þik skyli allir eiðar bíta

Sigrun‘s Curse (Sigruns Fluch)

7. Bjór færi ek þér

Beer I Bring Thee (Bier bring ich dir)

8. Sigrdrífumál

The Runes Of The Valkyria (Die Runen der Walküre)

9. Balders Draumar

Balder‘s Dreams (Balders Träume)

10. Óðrerir

The Winning Of The Poets‘ Mead (Die Gewinnung des Skaldenmets)

11. Fjölsvinnsmál

The Song Of Fjolsvith (Das Lied von Fiölswidr)

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Old Norse Songs of might and magic

After three years of artistic reinvention in the quartet we now present another album with contemporary, dramaturgically dense settings from the almost inexhaustible fund of Old Norse poetry, commonly known as " Elder Edda" or " Poetic Edda". This time the focus is on the power of rune magic, but also typical knowledge "duels" can be heard as well as the famous winning of the poets' mead Óðrerir by Othin, whereby this time Swedish and Norwegian translations were omitted consciously, so that all songs can be heard in the original Old Icelandic. Our music, which is characterized by Scandinavian and Celtic folk, but also by other influences, is an attempt to build a bridge between modern listening habits and the linguistic and rhythmic peculiarities of Old Icelandic poetry.

The work was recorded and mixed in the "Green House" in the Erzgebirge and in the Studio6, Dresden, by Stephan Salewski, who also enriched many pieces musically with his imaginative, sometimes almost orchestral percussion playing. The sound artist Jan Heinke with Didgeridoo and his unique, self-developed steel cello was also involved in some songs. Of course this CD, mastered by Emanuel Uch (TheEmU Audio Mastering), again comes within a noble book, bound by hand in linen in the bookbindery Ludwig Nowak, Dresden, and embossed with a new variant of the "Yggdrasil", the Germanic world tree by Martin Suhr (utopiq23), who also made the complete layout.

About This Album

Four years ago, after we had given ourselves the first Edda album in solid book form as a present for the 10th anniversary of the band, we already felt that the topic had not yet been exhausted for us. Too many exciting stories and dialogues of gods, heroes and giants had already been on the shortlist, but had either not yet found the right musical form or no right place in the concept at that time – or had simply been postponed for reasons of time. Especially the fascinating field of runes and magic spells, which is often sung about in eddic poetry, seemed to have many songs in store. Thus an already defined artistic terrain initially remained "unfooted" and should be left promisingly unexploited for some time to come.

Since then a lot has happened with Strömkarlen, first and foremost in terms of personnel: In 2016 our former fellow Stefan Johansson, after having lived for 15 years in Germany, moved back to his old home in northern Sweden with his family, which of course meant a deep artistic and emotional cut for the sworn in trio. Fortunately, two wonderful, both competent as well as kind colleagues, with whom we had previously been connected both in private and through other musical projects, joined us shortly afterwards: Caterina Other on the nyckelharpa and Daniel Nikolas Wirtz on the guitar turned out to be ideal partners for a successful new start as a quartet. In order not to suspend our concert activities for too long, we first reworked the material for the extended line-up, whereby in addition to the instrumental arrangements, the vocal parts in particular were renewed and could now be enriched by a fourth, female voice. With this new body of sound, which soon grew together to form a wonderful unity, we finally started to awaken the temporarily put aside, longingly slumbering verses to new musical life.

About Gods And Heroes

At this point, first of all, some information about the historical texts that serve as the basis for our compositions. The so-called Elder Edda or Song Edda is a medieval collection of initial-rhyming (or alliterating) legends of gods and heroes as well as proverbial poetry, the heart of which is called Codex Regius, as this manuscript fell into the possession of the Royal Danish Library in the 17th century. Made around 1270 as a copy of a somewhat older, non-preserved collection by a single writer in Iceland, it is one of the oldest available Scandinavian texts (apart from runic inscriptions on stone tablets and other objects). Besides some prose, factual and juridical texts, it is regarded as the most important document from which the culture and way of thinking of the early northern Europeans speak to us, thus the peoples who were at times commonly known as "Vikings", and testifies to the astonishingly highly developed medieval art of Icelandic poetry. Although the Christianization of Northern Europe was already relatively progressed at this time (which is also subtly reflected in the texts), it is assumed that the contents and partly also the form of most songs originated long before they were committed to writing and existed in oral tradition for generations.

The language is old Icelandic or, as the Icelanders themselves used to call it: Norrön or Dánsk tunga ("Nordic" or "Danish language"), which the Norwegian settlers brought to the island from the 8th century onwards. Despite the great variety of dialects, national languages were hardly perceived as such and were so little differentiated until well into the High Middle Ages, that most northern Europeans were able to communicate largely without problems. In contrast to the previous album, on which, for reasons of band history, we had used some Norwegian and Swedish translations, this time we have exclusively used the original Old Icelandic texts in modernized spelling, as they are kindly made available on the Norwegian website www.heimskringla.no .

Medieval Colleagues

The poems are called songs not only because the terms for poem, song, speech, narrative, etc. (old icelandic: ljóð, kviða, mál etc.), are used almost synonymously, but also because the verses were actually recited singing by their professional creators and keepers, the Scalds. This increased the entertainment value and made it easier to memorize the many verses in a culture that had been largely without writing until then. It was precisely this aspect that fascinated us from the artistic point of view, for in the absence of musical recordings the old melodies are unknown today (though probably sublimely present in later developed song forms and singing styles), so that we gladly devoted ourselves to the setting of these poems to music with our modern musical means of expression. The initial challenge was to extract manageable passages from the very extensive original texts, which would produce reasonably closed units of meaning. Then melodies, rhythms etc. – in general: musical forms had to be found, which on the one hand are in harmony with the original, for us today quite unusual rhyme and emphasis concept, on the other hand with the mood and content of the verses, without appearing bulky or artificial. To what extent we have succeeded may be judged by the kind listener.