Krauka
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Krauka

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This is some hard-edged, macho, Viking stuff. Using implements of destruction and pillage ranging from hide drums to shawms to jew’s harps to chainsaws and axes (actual axes – not guitars!), this Nordic trio hacks into the Scandinavian permafrost to dig up songs of battle and giants and drinking and dismemberment. Some of it is surprisingly tender; some of it is downright frightening. It all has a quirky, earthy appeal, with inventive uses of sound and healthy swigs of tongue-in-cheek humour. Pull up a comfortable seat on the mead bench and give it a listen. (PL) - Dirty Linen


»BYLUR« ist der perfekte Kompromiss. Während das Debüt des dänisch-isländischen Trios sorgfältig und authentisch die Musik der Wikinger reanimierte und das Folgealbum ektronisch-moderne Elemente addierte, verbindet die Nummer drei beide Stränge: Trotz des Einsatzes von Samplern und elektrischer Gitarre bleiben die 18 überwiegend selbst komponierten Songs auf sehr traditionellem Fundament. Es dominieren Handtrommel und Flöten, antike Lyras und Maultrommeln, Schalmei und herbe Männergesänge, eben auf dänisch und isländisch, über blutrünstiges Henkers-Handwerk, Göttergestalten und die Sauna-Rituale der Wikinger.

Das alles hat einen sehr speziellen Reiz und ist in dieser urwüchsigen und doch feinsinnigen Ausprägung bisher noch nicht so von anderen Folk-Fachleuten realisiert worden. Zur stilechten Atmosphäre trug sicher auch die Aufnahmesituation bei: »BYLUR«, was im Isländischen die Doppelbedeutung »Lärm« und »Schneesturm« hat, entstand zum Teil in Island, während winterlicher Schneestürme. Und wie man im Innen-Cover sieht, ging's anschließend zum Gemeinschaftsbad in einer heißen Quelle. (Peter Bickel)
- Nordische Musik


Kraukas plade er en åbenbaring i den nye bølge af vikingemusik

Der er gang i den danske folkemusik, der selvsikkert fører sig frem og også i musik, der dygtigt tager os tilbage til en før-kristen virkelighed, uden at det bliver påtaget. I dette tilfælde er resultatet rent ud banebrydende samt musikalsk fremragende.
Krauka har rødder i dansk tradition, samt har i Gudjon Rudolf et islandsk kraftværk af en forsanger, der giver hver en strofe en autenticitet, der emmer af norden, vel at mærke en kultur, der ved Kraukas mellemkomst ikke virker filmisk fremmed, men nærmere nærværende og giver en kraftig følelse af rødder. Af vores danske rødder.
Og dér, hvor det hele bliver en kende for naturligt og opstigningen fra vinterbadningen næsten parodisk, kan man jo bare starte motorsaven, eller sample nogle høns. Og le højt.
Og det er netop den fantasirige brug af samplinger, som giver denne nye plade et helt andet niveau end den forrige, som vel havde karakter og intention, men som på undertegnede virkede ufærdig, ja, lidt fersk. På Bylur hører jeg et gennembrud frem mod en stil, der dels er original, og dels har et skær af pop eller måske bare referencer, forstået på den måde, at der hele tiden er musikalske og lydmæssige billeder, som rammer ved noget kendt, der måske er ens indre og resultatet af en opvækst, der Odin-være-lovet ikke kun handlede om Dawson's Creek i genudsendelse.
Det er en plade, der anbefales meget kraftigt. Det er nordisk musik, som vover og gennem sin kompromisløse handlen fremstår som klart den bedste plade, GAFFA's anmelder hidtil har hørt fra den bølge, der tager afsæt i vikingetiden og den tidlige middelalder. Ligesom jeg rigtigt godt kan lide afstikkere til den danske folkemusik gennem Lang Linken.
Så velkommen til et univers, hvor vand fosser, - Gaffa


Danish band Krauka performs music that is completely different from what most people recognize as Nordic music. Instead of abundant virtuoso fiddles, accordions and nyckelharpa, Krauka "recreates the tones and songs of the Viking era". They use drums and percussion, tribal chanting, Icelandic singing, horns, flute, guitar and electronics.


On their latest Cd, Bylur, the music sounds at times tribal and harsh, but in other parts it sounds like very melodic European Medieval music with minstrel flutes. Certainly not the scary warrior music one might expect from such legendary travelers/raiders.
- World Music Central


The concept sounds intriguing: a Nordic trio playing Viking-age instruments and singing ancient and original compositions. Yet when you see the photo in the CD’s inner sleve, you are greeted by a trio who look like movie extras caught between a gig for Lord of the Rings and a remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The music, too, varies from complexly beautiful to something more akin to P. D. Q. Bach or the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (or perhaps a Viking Spinal Tap). “Stiklur” is an original composition featuring bowed lyre and jew’s harp and would not sound out of place on an Incredible String Band LP. “Norden for Tronhjem”, based on a traditional song, features a singularly lovely melody, a driving rhythm, and vocals that sound like they are being sung by a trio of Nordic Leo Kottkes. So, should we take the music seriously? Does Krauka take its music seriously? The only clue might be in the fact that Vikings enjoyed a good laugh every bit as much as a good battle.
LB
- Dirty Linen


Auf Dänisch und Altnordisch singen Krauka die alten Gottheiten an, und wer sich die drei Herren auf dem Foto ansieht, hat gleich den Verdacht, dass sie das alles nicht so ganz ernst nehmen. So singen sie auch - d. h, singen können sie eigentlich nicht, aber das gleichen sie aus durch ungeheure Freude an der Sache, und durch gewaltigen Einfallsreichtum, was die Instrumentierung angeht. So klingen die Anrufen von Odin & Co mal flämisch wie weiland Rum, mal wie Liederjan um 1980, mal nach Klezmer und mal nach Binioù Kozh, und selbst das uns bekannte "Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuck saß" wird zur höheren Ehre Valhallas eingespannt. Die Spielfreude, die die drei Krauka-Mannen entwickeln, greift sehr bald auf die Zuhörerin über, wunderbare CD, wirklich, nur sollte ihnen mal jemand sagen, dass ein paar Infos immer gern gesehen werden, wo z.B. haben sie die als "Trad" ausgegeben Stücke her (etwa die Hälfte, der Rest ist selbst komponiert).
Gabriele Haefs
- Volker


"Ymer" is grim and full of foreboding. "Vinterblot" is wild, frantic and perhaps just a bit silly. "Hrapnerdans," which begins with a raven's cry, sounds proud, perhaps an invocation before battle or a later telling of one's exploits on the field.
It's hard to say exactly what is going on, but Stiklur is an intriguing flashback to Old Scandinavia. Krauka, based in Denmark, presents a blend of traditional songs from Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, as well as original pieces that evoke the atmosphere of evening revels in a Viking hall. I wouldn't necessarily believe that the 16 tracks here are anything like the actual music heard in ancient days, but it has the root and feel of authenticity mixed in a modern wrapping. It's fun.
Unfortunately, the CD has a disheartening lack of explanatory text. If you want to know the origins of this music, you'll have to visit the band's website for a hint. Alas, a hint is all you'll find there; the background of these songs remains a mystery, and there is no translation of the lyrics to give listeners a hint of what might be going on.
According to the site, Krauka came together in 1999 to combine music and stories from the Viking age when Norse culture spread through much of the North Atlantic. Bandmates Gudjon Rudolf (lead vocals, jew's harp, percussion), Askel Striim (bowed lyre, shawm, flutes, percussion, vocals) and Jens Villy Pedersen (lyre, flutes, rebec, vocals) researched the music of the age and built their own instruments.
Besides period instruments and vocals, the album works a few sound effects into the mix: chants, the voices of warriors, the calls of a raven, a tolling bell, a ragged cry to Odin. Occasionally, the music sounds vaguely Middle Eastern, perhaps with a hint of klezmer here and there. Since the Vikings ranged far and wide, both as raiders and traders, it's quite possible their musical influences were equally far-ranging.
For all that there only three singers here, the vocals are very varied. There are even occasional glitches in the music, tiny errors that make it sound very real -- sort of like a community pageant that was performed to re-enact the period. I suppose it's safe to call the members of Krauka modern-day skalds, recreating an old tradition for modern audiences. Certainly the music makes me want to know more about the roots of these pieces; the band, as educators of an ancient style, should consider supplying further information on their craft!
When I imagine Vikings sitting in a great hall and singing, it's for their own entertainment, not some audience beyond the fourth wall. That's what this feels like, a group of musicians singing for their own pleasure, and if we enjoy it, fine -- and that helps me to enjoy it more.
The music is at times very pleasant, sometimes surprisingly relaxing -- perhaps evoking a casual evening in the great hall after a big battle. On other tracks it is frantic and bellicose, sometimes dissonant but never harsh. Is that one a funeral dirge? I wish I knew. Without a doubt, Stiklur is unlike anything I've heard before, a unique listening experience. I'd recommend that you give it a try.
- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
- Rambles


Discography

2002: Vikinga Seiður
2004: Stiklur
2006: Bylur
2009: Odinn

Photos

Bio

www.krauka.dk
www.myspace.com/krauka1
http://www.last.fm/music/Krauka
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_73FiM9XNc

Since the release of their first album and continuing with the following two albums, Krauka (Gudjon Rudolf, Aksel Striim and Jens Villy Pedersen) have followed their own quite unique agenda.

On their debut album Vikinga Seidur, they sought to faithfully recreate the tones and songs of the Viking era, using inspiration drawn in equal parts from compositional and instrumental archeology. On the follow-up album Stiklur they opened up for a more modern universe of sound by mixing both electric and electronic elements and including more of their own compositions. Their new album makes a surprising connection between past and present, blending a progressive modern musicality with thousand-year old tones in a tasteful dish which bears the title Bylur .

In Rudolf’s Icelandic mother tongue, the word ”bylur” has the double meaning of ”noise” and ”snowstorm,” an ingenious play of words. Not only because the CD is partly recorded in Iceland, with its both beautiful and violent weather—but also the fact that the tracks themselves often turn to the Nordic forces of nature for their inspiration. Sun, snow and ocean are the natural inhabitants of these tracks, which seem to flourish outdoors, where the campfire burns and the dance is on, followed by a Viking dip in the ocean. In many ways, we delve so deeply into the Nordic memory, that nature is truly a shaping force, both when the snowstorm rages and when the sun tingles gently on the skin.

In comparison with Krauka’s earlier, more tradition-bound albums, Bylur makes something of a “noise” in that the group, while retaining the instruments of the Viking period, have really stirred things up. Not that tradition has been pushed to the background, the tracks still resound with strong, poetic male voices, rebec, hand drums, Jewish harps, lyres and flutes, and they still draw on Icelandic text sources and medieval song tradition. On several of the numbers they use an ambient background with an often harsh and ominous electronic sound and the ancient instruments are forced to play modern melody patterns, and the sound of the electric guitar is naturally interlaced with the sound of the past. In several places a sampler is used —the most revolutionary instrument of our times—to form collages of background sounds, which match those we can encounter in the most experimental end of electronic music, but which quite naturally drift into Krauka’s universe. On one number, electronic and hand-played rhythms combine to form the whirling base for a sort of medieval rap. Many of these surprise elements are a result of the close cooperation between the band and the producers Thorkell Atlason og Henrik Corfitsen. Out of this fusion a new, cohesive beauty has been created: as simple and earthy as the soil of the North, but often riddled with a magic and a longing, which is just as familiar to us as it was to our distant forefathers - and not least imbued with an infectious feel for everything which makes life worth living, for better and for worse—from the pricking of food on your tongue to the stormy soul of battle.

Bylur is the past at its most radical—and the present where it delves deepest into the soil. It is an experiment without many parallels in modern music, played by three actually quite old-fashioned musicians with the joy of their work tattooed on their souls—and with a captivating, folk sound, which at the end of the day is hardly foreign to even the most hardcore avant-garde fan . It is a door, which allows us to recognize both what we were and what we are becoming in our times, when the world has come knocking with new sounds and impulses. It is the row, the snowstorm, and so infinitely much more.