Scandinavian longing: 6 releases out of Sweden and Norway!
Scandinavia – the lands of fjords, mountains, forests, lakes – and amazing music. This week, we take our look to Norway and Sweden for two times three diverse releases. Electronic and ambient stuff from Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda/Dark Tranquility) and Ulver, crazier and quirkier stuff from Diablo Swing Orchestra and Solum (solo project by Vulkan guitarist Christian Fredriksson), and finally some true Norwegian stuff from Gaahls Wyrd and finally Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik.
Johan Reinholdz - Solipsism
Starting off this Scandinavian surprise week was a surprise solo release by one of Sweden’s best guitar shredders: Johan Reinholdz of Andromeda (and lately also Dark Tranquility) fame. Even more surprising than the drop of “Solipsism” almost without a prior warning is the completely ambient nature of the record. Soothing synth textures, an occasional organ and dreamy atmospheres permeate the 50 minutes of this subtle beauty. Any use of the guitar only serves the purpose of enhancing the textures and layers, no noodling whatsoever here. Music to daydream to, it’s no use if you’re looking for anything upbeat or energetic, you might just find it very boring. Oh, is that a remix of that cool motif from Karnivool’s ‘Simple Boy’? And who can tell me which bird is singing the ‘Nattpsalm’? How cool is that! Sometimes dark and eerie, but mesmerizingly beautiful throughout: a rare and unexpected gem.
Ulver - Scary Muzak
More ambient, soundtrack-like music comes from Norwegian chameleons of Ulver this week. “Scary Muzak” was a fun ‘pandemic pastime project’ as they call it and was mixed by none other than French synthwave legend Carpenter Brut. Unsurprisingly (for a change), the music here is of electronic nature and pays homage to the classic horror movies (The Exorcist, I’m looking at you…). Two days late for this year, but I’d definitely buy a vinyl (or even a cassette) for next year’s Halloween party. The only thing that’s missing is Kristoffer ‘Garm’ Rygg’s majestic voice, so I hope it will be featured again on the next regular Ulver album. Also, if you’re in need of more electronic Ulver after this, there’s always the stunning live document “Hexahedron” from earlier this year. I for one can’t get enough!
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole
Back to Sweden and the first proper ‘band-album’ of this Release Week, let’s turn our attention to “Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole”, the fifth album by the one and only Diablo Swing Orchestra. Overall probably the least metal of all DSO outings, it is still delightfully bonkers in all the right ways and it’s living up to its name big time, probably even more so than “Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious” about 12 years ago. It’s full of umm, full blown brass arrangements, over the top vocals from not-so-new-anymore frontwoman Kristin Evegård (who’s putting on her best Spanish accent for the second single ‘Celebremos Lo Inevitable) and absolutely crazy fiddle shred (that outro of ‘Malign Monologues’!). It also seems to put some of the epicness back into the DSO sound, which I personally missed somehow for parts of its 2017 predecessor “Pacifisticuffs”. Bandleader Daniel Håkansson is beckoning us: “Follow me, into my theater of lunacy…” I’ll gladly obey, let’s go!
Solum - Encountering Murk
Staying in Sweden, this project is actually related to the Diablo Swing Orchestra: drummer Johan Norbäck plays in Vulkan as well, and Vulkan’s guitarist Christian Fredriksson is presenting us an instrumental solo trip under the moniker Solum. “Encountering Murk” sounds just as earthy and slightly quirky (or murky) as the title suggests. A nightly walk in the murky swedish forests, encountering trolls and other earthen creatures and gathering round a bonfire with them for a strange kind of party in the woods: this could be the soundtrack. First single and opener ‘Entrance’ is a hypnotic ‘variations on a theme in ⅝’ and sets the tone splendidly. Containing 5 songs and two interludes, “Encountering Murk” is a neat little album that might be in risk of getting overlooked between all the big releases, but that would be a crying shame indeed. Are we in Murkwood yet?
Gaahls Wyrd - The Humming Mountain EP
From the Swedish Forests into the Norwegian mountains. A release by one of the leading figures of Norwegian Black Metal (that isn’t Ihsahn) featured here on The Progspace? Long after one of the best current drummers of the modern prog metal scene (namely Baard Kolstad) featured in the (live-)lineup of this band/project at that? Well, “Gastir – Ghosts Invited”, the 2019 debut album by Gaahls Wyrd, already showed lots of progressive and atmospheric leanings alongside some fierce blast beats and black metal shrieks. “The Humming Mountain” mini-album continues that path, with a strong emphasis on dark, somber atmospheres. The build up of the first three songs couldn’t be more steep from the mostly acoustic 9-minute opener ‘The Seed’ via a rather doomy pace in the title track until the blast beats and ‘unclean’ vocals are finally unleashed for ‘The Dwell’. Ending on a particularly lonely sounding note with the haunting ‘The Sleep’, “The Humming Mountain” might be a perfect companion with a nice glass of red wine on one of these cold autumn nights…
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik - Hardanger EP
While the above “The Humming Mountain” is dwelling on the long side of an EP as far as the runtime is concerned, thus being dubbed a mini album by Gaahl himself, our final recommendation comes for this little EP (or actually single really), by Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik. The Norwegian duo’s first two full length albums “Skuggsjá” (2016) and “Hugsá” (2018) were huge hits among critics and fans of that unique dark nordic folk alike. And, as was to be expected, “Hardanger” continues that quality streak of releases, even though it’s quite short, not even reaching the 10 minute mark. Looking at the releases of this year though, the two distinguished Vikings have been quite busy, with Ivar’s Enslaved putting out a massive Live Boxset with the “Cinematic Tour 2020” back in June and the “Caravans to the Outer Worlds” in October, while Einar’s Wardruna released the amazing “Kvitravn” at the very beginning of the year to raving reviews and fans. A great year for lovers of authentic and progressive music from Norway.
More releases for 05 November, 2021
- Imaginary Kings - Dreamtime (Nov. 1)
- Anchor and Burden - Clenched Brow Bandcamp
- Bent Knee - Frosting (Take This to Heart Records) Bandcamp
- Maudits - Angle Mort (Klonosphere Records) Bandcamp
- Kornmo - Fimbulvinter (Apollon Records Prog)
- Octarine Sky - Close to Nearby
- Man May Be - Shadows of the Dawn
- Moonshine Oversight - The Frame (Wormholedeath Records)
- Arlekin - The Secret Garden Bandcamp
- Alan Simon - Excalibur V - Move, Cry, Act, Clash! (Cherry Red)
- Zaäar - Magická Džungl'a (I, Voidhanger Records) Bandcamp
- Adliga - Vobrazy Bandcamp
- Dying Hydra - Of Lowly Origin (Black Grain Records)
- Omnium Gatherum - Origin (Century Media Records)
- MØL - Diorama (Nuclear Blast)
- Glassing - Twin Dream (Brutal Panda) Bandcamp
- Portrayal of Guilt - Christfucker (Run for Cover Records) Bandcamp
- Mors Verum - The Living Bandcamp
- Churchburn - Genocidal Rite (Translation Loss Records) Bandcamp
- Rongeur - Glacier Tongue (Fysisk Format) Bandcamp
- Emma Ruth Rundle - Engine of Hell (Sargent House) Bandcamp
- Stefan Altzar - Post apocalyptic cowboy songs
- The Sound That Ends Creation - Boomers, Zoomers, Desperate Coomers Bandcamp
- Blossom - Prequel EP (Mey Productions) Bandcamp
- Lithik - Weather the Storm EP
- Varius - Concordance EP
- Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman - Dark Fables
- Kauan - Sorni Nai (Live) (Artoffact Records) Bandcamp
- Alan Parsons - The Neverending Show - Live in the Netherlands (Frontiers Music)
- Gong - Live at the Gong Family Unconventional Gathering (G-Wave) Bandcamp
- Solkyri - No House (10th Anniversary Release) (Bird’s Robe Collective)
- Radiohead - Kind A mnesia (XL Recordings)
- Francis Dunnery - The Big Purple Castle (Nov. 6)