The folk music of Tornedalen, like that of the Sami, is timeless. It has survived thanks to its Kalevala quality and strength. No violins or accordions are used in the traditional music of Tornedalen, since members of the 19th-century revivalist movement in northern Sweden frowned upon worldly music. However, vocal music was permitted, and for musical group JORD, singing is what it’s all about.
The group, whose members include Susanne Rantatalo, vocals and percussion, Jan Johansson, vocals and accordion, Gun Olofsson, vocals, flute and guitar, and Erling Fredriksson, vocals, bass and guitar, has been drawing inspiration from Tornedalen’s musical treasure chest for a decade. About half of the material on the group’s most recent recording, Nice matka (2011), is traditional, while half is original. During their years together, the band has experimented a lot with individual vocal registers, and on Nice matka, which means ‘pleasant journey’, a whole new musical world emerges.
Until relatively recently, JORD was placed in the folk music genre, but now they have broadened their style and their appeal. The new record is world music from Tornedalen and it speaks to an international audience with a taste for a modern musical mix with roots.
It’s no mistake that none of the songs on the record are in Swedish. JORD sings exclusively in Meänkieli, a variant of old Finnish spoken in Tornedalen. This conveys a strong sense of a desire to preserve something of value. Working with this type of music has a lot do with bridging a gap between the band and its audience. JORD dares to cultivate something that is outside of the main stream. This is exemplified by a current project, their interpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s The River.
JORD’s vocal harmonies merge with influences from different parts of the world and their sound distinguishes them from others in the same genre. The music reflects the group’s ambitions and it is clear that JORD has carefully crafted it to appeal to listeners whose ears are attuned to the sounds of Swedish Lapland and northern Scandinavia.
During winter 2012, ICEHOTEL guests visiting the hotel’s rooftop Northern Lights terrace will be accompanied by the music of JORD. The group will also give a concert at ICEHOTEL this winter season. Stay tuned for more information during the season.
- Nice matka was co-produced with Ollie Olson, known for hits performed by Christian Walz such as Never Be Afraid Again and Lovin’ Is All Right, and for his collaboration with, among others, Teddybears STHLM, Robyn and Ice-T.
- Joining JORD in the studio were percussionist Michael Blair (who has worked with Tom Waits, Elivs Costello and Lou Reed), guitarist Patrik Fällman (who often plays with Olle Nyman and Henrik Edenhed) and keyboardist David Lindgren Zacharias (who appears on the Kiruna band Willy Clay Band’s Blue).
- Meänkieli, meaning ‘our language’, is a recognized minority language in Sweden and is closely related to Finnish. When Sweden and Russia agreed in 1809 to draw the border along the Torne River, the region was divided and the Swedish part of Tornedalen, with its distinct culture and language, became a minority enclave in Sweden. In 2000, Meänkieli gained official status as a minority language in Sweden.
- Nice matka is a dramatic narrative of the old meeting the new. The record conjures up an image of an old open-air dance floor from the 1940-50s where the traditional music of Tornedalen can be heard. At the same time, an unknown force lurks at the edge of the forest with the promise of something new.
- Read more and order the record at www.jordmusic.com.
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Press officer at ICEHOTEL since 2006 (Communicator since 1999). Frost bitten from the start. Camilla's thing for the written word began at a young age in the village Månsbyn just outside of Kalix....