This is the third demo and the latter half of the Renhet ('Purity') project delivered through the thoughts of German Lord Vranevorn, known here as Til Det Bergens Skyggene. Like his countryman Christoph 'Vinterriket' Ziegler, but not necessarily so bleak, Vranevorn has the rare ability to conjure up the most striking and poignant pieces of music with naught more than a synthesizer and his imagination. That's not to say that he sticks with just one instrument, because you'll hear both pianos and acoustic guitars captured in the ice here alongside the broader strings, but this is truly the sort of recording one can complete with no deadline, no external pressure in one's own personal space, with no need to involve extraneous musicians or influences.
I want to say that the four compositions chosen for this are even more oblique and sorrow-spun than Renhet I. The predator/prey aesthetic that was woven through the five tracks there seems to subside here for a more contemplative, spacious nightmare of sounds. The recording is about the same length (27-28 minutes), with only four tracks, each of which submerges the listener into a chasm of brooding variation and rustic beauty, and each of which is slightly longer than those of its former half. "Her, i det dunkle hjemmet (Here, in the dark homeland)" begins this adventure with an eloquent, almost medieval duet of strings that seem to hover within the margin of cold, coniferous woodland and rural winter dwellings, grasping from shadows with its dire and cautionary melodies. "Månevandring (Gjennom Primitiv Uhygge)" or 'Moonlike (Through primitive eeriness...)' uses low, steady tribal percussion and chimes to really flesh out its namesake, gradually adding dark strings as it mutes into a dreary but majestic overture.
Next to these, the pulsing, ominous organs of "Vin, fyr og urgamle rus (Wine, fire and ancient intoxication)" seem positively space-age, but this is perhaps the most enthralling piece on this album, especially when that mouth-harp like 'boing' arrives over its choir of dark, angelics and sparse, spoken word. I can totally envision myself sitting in a cavern, my back to the cold stone walls, front to the firelight as I conjecture drunkenly upon my place in the universe, and so the piece appears to be working as intended? The closer, "Der i det ukjente fjerna (There, in the unknown distance)" seems similar to the first on this recording, with a mildly different selection of notes, and for that reason, it's perhaps the least compelling of Renhet as a whole, but still solemn, solitary and unnerving enough to fit with its neighbors.
I certainly enjoy the variety this artist wrings out of his instruments, and the impressive scope of subject matter, both physical and metaphysical to which Vranevorn commits this aural study. It might not have a mainstream appeal, of course, and much of humanity would seem incapable of submersing itself in anything deeper than Annie Lennox or Radiohead, but that only serves to increase its values of isolation and obscurity. Fans of Vinterriket, early Mortiis, or the non metal recordings of Burzum would see the natural target for these creations, but really anyone into darker New Age or ambient recordings would be hard-pressed to resist the allure.
Verdict: Win [7.75/10]