Valravn - Koder på snor (Tutl, 2009)

The Danish quintet Valravn first got my attention last year with their self-titled debut CD. Combining folk instrumentation with dark electronica, the band evoked some of the strong Nordic bans of the nineties like Hedningarna and Garmarna. They didn't necessarily break new ground or improve on what was done in the past, but they did create a handful of pretty strong tracks. Now Anna Katrin Egilstrøð, Martin Seeberg, Søren Hammerlund, Juan Pino, and Christopher Juul are back with a new album called Koder på Snor. It's somewhat darker and angrier than its predecessor, with the tracks generally longer and more fleshed out, but otherwise it's more of the same.

Once again, the focal point of Valravn's sound is Anna Katrin Egilstrøð. If you're looking for something pretty or diva-like, she won't be your kind of singer. It's easy -- too easy, perhaps -- to compare the Faroese native to Björk, the most famous singer from Iceland. But while you can make the argument that Egilstrøð tries too hard to sound like somebody else, you could counter by pointing out that Björk channels the same primal elements in Nordic singing traditions as Egilstrøð and plenty of other contemporary Scandinavian singers do. Personally, I think the harshness works, and if anything I think there were opportunities for her to cut loose even more than she does on this recording.

Ultimately, if you liked the first Valravn CD, or Nordic techno/folk in general, you'll like Koder på Snor as well. I didn't feel that the new album went beyond its predecessor, though, and the band wear on their sleeves the influence of performers which to date they haven't been able to match. They're still worth a listening to and keeping up with, as they appear to have the skill to take their music to the next level.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

the video for the title song

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