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Date: 02/09/22

Amplifying History

On one of those rare occasions where something in the Arts section of the Guardian proved to be genuinely interesting (which means for one thing that it wasn't written by Jonathan Jones), I happened upon this article a couple of weeks back.

Sufficiently intrigued by the possibility of old texts being put to music in a modern style (such as this one featured here a few years ago), I clicked on the embedded video on the Graun's report, and was brought face-to-face (and speaker-to-ears) with something quite remarkable.

It could have been a complete pose, of course; goodness knows that there are enough people around who think that they're being 'authentic' when they appropriate culture from another place or another time to make themselves seem really interesting (if only to themselves). But this doesn't seem to be the case with Heilung; they appear not merely to talk the talk, but to chant the chant as well (and they use runes and everything!). I've listened to the rest of the Drif album from which Anoana is taken, and found it interesting if a little one-paced. I intend checking out their earlier albums in due course.

Anyway, here's the spiel about the origins of the lyrics:

"The lyrics for this piece are mainly taken from bracteates: golden, circular coins or amulets found in Northern Europe that date from the 4th to 7th centuries CE. They are often fitted with a decorated rim and loop, which indicates that they were meant to be worn and perhaps provide protection, fulfil wishes or for divination.

"The bracteates feature a very significant iconography influenced by Roman coinage. They were predominantly made from Roman gold, which was given to the North Germanic peoples as peace money."

The accompanying video is quite something in itself. It could easily have looked like a parody or something descending to same, but there's an elemental primitiveness (and I most emphatically do not use that word in a disparaging sense) to it which meshes with the music to create a compelling whole.

Click on the logo for the video, but I warn you that this track may become an eyraormr (*) of epic proportions:

YouTube logo

(* My best guess at the Old Norse for 'earworm'. So sue me...)