Swedish group Den Fule grew from the demise of the well regarded Filarfolket, their new name translating as ‘the ugly one’, a Scandinavian reference to the devil. Ellika Frisell (fiddle) and Stern Källman (soprano and baritone saxophones/percussion) had both previously played with Filarfolket, while Jonas Simonson (flute/bass saxophone) had worked with another renowned folk band, Groupa. They were joined in Den Fule by three new musicians drawn from the Swedish jazz and rock traditions, Henrik Cederblom (guitar), Christian Jormin (drums) and Stefan Bergman (bass). The group made its debut at the Falun Folk Festival in 1990, pledging to bridge the gap between traditional music and contemporary instruments. This idea was first tried out by Källman in 1989 when he was invited to provide the musical entertainment for Swedish National Radio Gothenburg to accompany the live Midsummer’s Eve Broadcast. This original formation of Den Fule included another original member of Filarfolket, Thomas Ringdahl, but the aforementioned line-up was established soon after. However, their Falun appearance and subsequent performances led to them being labelled folk rock, a description with which Källman is displeased: ‘The folk bit is correct. All our tunes are Swedish and Norwegian tunes and sound-wise we are a folk band. But the rhythm isn’t rock - it’s more of a marriage between Afro-tradition and Nordic shamanism.’ In place of folk rock they prefer the term ‘power polka’, although this seems to be splitting hairs. Their debut album of 1993, Amalthea, impressed widely with its frantic rhythms, immortalised in Folk Roots magazine as ‘funk driven Viking foot stomping’, which is at least as useful a description as the band’s own.
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