Garmarna

Hildegard Von Bingen

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During the '90s the new age crowd discovered Hildegard von Bingen, one of the first credited female composers, and gave her work their anemic treatment. Sweden's Garmarna right the balance by presenting the medieval mistress of song in a 21st century light, not always soft and romantic, but often hard, driven by programmed beats, with Emma Härdelin's eerie voice intoning von Bingen's Latin liturgical lyrics over the top. Conceived for a tour in 1998, this project has taken on a life of its own, something that might be not quite a full Garmarna album, but has plenty of their flavors. There's even a touch of Portishead-goes-to-Sweden in the trip-hoppy "Paso," the album's only original piece. But while this might not exactly be the next Garmarna release, there's a real cohesion to it. They've adapted the original works so well, transporting them to modern times but keeping the ancient feel -- always one of their strengths, so that while von Bingen might have been rolling over in her grave from the ministrations of the wind-chime brigade, she's probably smiling broadly at this.

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