Then I grew up a bit, nowadays there are only two bands with female vocals I listen to, but am I glad I found this one.
Gåte is to this day one of my favorite bands both for their traditional songs and originals. I have yet to see better work with harmony and storytelling - yes, I've just put them above Porcupine Tree.
So today we're going to take a look at: Knut Liten og Sylvelin
That's if you're too lazy to make out the lyrics yourself, here's the full translation:
Kongjen og Knut Liten dei sat ivi bord,
Dei tala så mange dei skjemtande ord.
- Så såre syrgjer Sylvelinn fyr lisle Knut i Løyndom
"Høyrer du Knut liten, hot eg spør`e deg:
lyster du skifte dei folar med meg?"
"Ja, skò eg skifte dei folar med deg:
Så vil eg hava dotter di i bytte, eg"
"Skò kje mi dotter bli be`re gift,
hell ho skò gange i hesteskift."
Knut liten seg reiser frå kongjens bord:
"Å visseleg skò eg hevne dei ord!"
Han klappa på dynni med hanskar på hand:
"Du kjenner vel Knut liten, din festarmann?"
"Her sit´e du kongje drikk`e mjød og vin,
Knut liten han søv`e med dotteri di."
Kongjen let ropa ivi heile sin gård:
"Kle dikkon, hovmenn, i brynjune blå."
Knut liten hoggje til han gjordest mod,
til blodet det sto ivi sylspente sko.
Knut liten han kom seg ri`and i gård,
kongjen ute fyr honom står.
"Knut liten, du stiller ditt sylvbugne sverd,
eg gjeve deg mi dotter, du er henne verd."
The king and Knut the Small sat at a table
They spoke many a jest and joke
So tenderly does Sylvelin secretly take care of little Knut
"Listen, Little Knut, what I ask you:
would you exchange horses with me?"
"Well, were I to exchange horses with you:
then I'd take your daughter in exchange"
"Should my daughter not be better wed than to be exchanged for a horse?"
Knut the Small stands up from the king's table
"Oh surely would I revenge those words!"
He tapped on the door with gloved hand
"Surely you recognize Knut the Small, your betrothed?"
"Here you sit, king, drinking mead and wine,
while Knut the Small sleeps with your daughter."
The king let it be shouted all over the farm:
"Dress youselves, hirdmen, in blue mailshirts."
Knut the Small hacked till he was tired
Till the blood stood higher than silver-buckled shoe.
Knut the Small came riding back to the farm,
The king stands waiting for him outside
"Knut the Small, still your silver-bowed sword,
I give you my daughter, you are worthy of her."
It's already corrected, that's why it's a bit different.
On with the song!
Then you have a small pause, as if the two were to look at each others eyes, filled with hatred and planning out the next sentence. Almost all of the band is already playing and we're reaching the climax of the story, Knut insults the king, the king shouts, the singer shouts too and we enter the battle. We get a short solo as to illustrate Knut killing all the hirdmen, then we come back to the narrative, a small pause before each sentence and then the song explodes into its ending.
And what a beautiful wrap up this is, after an epic combat, Knut stands in front of the king, covered in blood. I'd guess Knut is hating the king's guts at this moment, so he just stands there, eyes open wide, ready to jump on the man and cut his throat open - but as he now has Sylvelin's hand he can't do that - so that ending chaos has to just fade away, but as it is with hatred, it's more of a sharp end to the song and maybe chanting "Iselilja" is more of a "I went through this for you".
You may have noticed the song repeats "Iselilja" and "Så såre syrgjer Sylvelinn fyr lisle Knut i Løyndom", it's just like a chorus but instead of pausing the story a couple of times it just repeats throughout the verses. It's a folk thing, you wouldn't understand.
The more traditional versions of these songs are quite boring, it's more like reading a book while Gåte's version is like watching a short movie. Gunnhild's vocals are passionate and Magnus' riffs, both the simplistic soloing and choice of effects, add some nice modern but alternative flavor to the traditional song (not to mention his amazing performance, the guy won't stop moving for a second).
I couldn't find a traditional folk version of Knut Liten og Sylvelin but I have a couple of examples so you can see the difference between the versions. Of couse there are many bands out there making alternative versions of traditional music, but I truly think Gåte is the best so far not only in traditional but their alternative side is of great quality too - that's why they excel(that's the verb, not the software).
So here are a couple of traditional versions - Bendik og Årolilja and Margit Hjukse - by the well known band Bukkene Bruse (by the way, you should look up the Tre Bukkene Bruse children's story, it's great and has a troll) and Arve Moen Bergset(I don't actually know who that is, 0 research here)
Also, props to electric-Magnus for that fall by the end of the Bendik og Årolilja video.
If you don't now Bendik og Årolilja, it's Tristan and Isolde (pretty much Romeo and Juliet) but some norwegian king really liked it and asked for a translated song(I knew that before reading the guy in the youtube comments, so piss off).
But this post isn't about Bendik og Årolilja, it's about Gåte being great and I think I've proven it to you by now. The band may have broken up a while ago(2010 if wikipedia's correct) but that's no reason to not go give it some love, the comments are full of people learning norwegian but this band deserves some appreciation for the music, not the language.
That's all I have to say, here's your Commando Award.