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World Music CD Reviews Europe

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By Marty Lipp

Published September 23, 2005

While the Scandinavian “folk music of the future” has not had as much an impact outside the region as other countries, these two discs prove that the scene is a vibrant one that deserves more attention. Harv began as a duo of two friends who found each other and Swedish folk music as teens. Now a quartet, the group brings an infectious energy to old tunes, which they reinvent without straying far from tradition. Though fiddler Magnus Stinnerbom now also plays with the electric-folk group Hedningarna, Harv remains acoustic. With the addition of a rhythm section of a drummer and guitarist, Harv now plays folk music that is rhythmically propulsive and creative arranged. Swåp is a quartet composed of two Brits and two Swedes, playing music that doesn’t just bounce between traditions but is also at times sui generis. The two Swedish fiddlers deliver a Scandinavian sound, but the added facets of accordionist Karen Tweed (of the Poozies) and guitarist Ian Carr move the music into uncharted, though accessible, territory that straddles folk and chamber music. Delivering their strongest album yet, Swåp charms with mostly upbeat, mostly instrumental tunes that gently push the traditional envelope as a new generation of bands are doing in the Celtic world. As interest in regional folk styles grows, listeners should point their iPods north and give these thoroughly entertaining bands a try.

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