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Ranarim

Not many traditional folk bands would cite ABBA as an influence, but Sweden's Ranarim are happy to thank their pop antecedents, whom they all adored as kids. Even the band's lineup -- two males, two females -- reflects the Scandinavian superstars. Ranarim formed in 1997 when singers Sofia Sandén and Ulrika Bodén (both of whom also vocalize with another Swedish group, Rosenberg 7) met up with nychelharpa player Niklas Roswall at Stockholm's Royal Academy of Music, where all three were studying traditional music. As a part of their education, they had to form small bands. The three of them knew they wanted to include guitar, and Bodén recalled, "Niklas knew Jens Engelbrecht, so that was it. And it continued after school." Ranarim, whose name translates loosely as "beautiful blanket of dew," concentrated on acoustic sounds because that was one facet of what they loved, not as any reaction to the increased use of samplers and programming in music. In fact, all listen to modern rock, and Engelbrecht is part of a side project called Bark, which mixes traditional ballads with dance beats. Following graduation, the quartet played often in Sweden, but made no attempt to record until the end of 1999, when they entered Khabang Studios in Stockholm to make their debut, Till the Light of Day, which appeared in 2000. The record showed that, along with gory murder ballads, they also had a youthful sense of humor, as on "Inför - Ljusbadar - Hin Å Hätta," whose last part consisted of 22 goat names. In February 2001, Ranarim undertook their first North American tour. ~ Chris Nickson
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