Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Til Det Bergens Skyggene - s/t (2011)

The second release for the young Voldsom imprint (the first being a CD reissue of Finnish Norns' In Fog They Appear demo), Til Det Bergens Skyggene is an evocative ambient piece created by the label's proprietor, Lord Vranevorn. Seeking to spiritually emulate the works of Norse and Germanic enthusiasts in the field, namely that of black metal artists circa Ildjarn, Burzum, (early) Mortiis, Vinterriket, or Neptune Towers, he's actually managed to strike out further, to a distinct balance of both the longing, solitary atmospheres of fell natural visions in the North, and the future gleaning wonders that were once manifest in magnificent 80s synthesizer works of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. 37 minutes of sheer escapism captured on professional cassette, hand numbered to about 100 copies, this is something you'll probably want to get your hands on promptly, or at least beg Voldsom to make more copies available in this or another format.

I was quite taken aback here by the equal parts eloquence and darkness that are manifest in the five compositions of this demo. Certain mental predispositions about the bleak arboreal reflection of the cover image led me to believe this would be a work of desolation. Of isolation. But there's quite a knack for melody ingrained in the organ, string and flute pads being utilized here, and each of the tracks bleeds the heart of its repetition into a breathtaking transition that is often a surprise. Examples would include the eerie "Skog, natt og stjerner (forest, night and stars)", in which the morose backdrop is grafted with perkier, uplifting melodies, and a subtle beat inserted as precisely the right moment to conjure a lavish momentum. "Opphans stillhelt", through which a dark repetition strums against a carnival melody, almost as if the soundtrack for some archaic, brooding silent film. Or the true centerpiece of the recording: the epic "Min tid har kommet (my time has come)", with its bright and expansive waves of dominant keys that collapse into a subtle, almost tribal undercurrent of sparse percussion, and then an extensive stretch of dire madness, only to return to the inevitable grace of the opening sequence.

You get lost in Til Det Bergens Skyggene. The imagination soars, from the tower like stride of the title track to the periods of somnolent, forgotten glades and gulfs. Like much of the better ambient work, mere clues are given to each track's inspiration: the rest is left to the emotions of the listener to fill in. The simplified and repressed production of the cassette format serves only to enhance its sense of distance and obscurity, though I get the impression that Vranevorn's compositions would be well suited to the clean acoustics of an orchestra just as well as the sole keyboard architect. For an initial demo, this is well written and attuned to both a background experience in the wilderness, or a direct absorption by flickering, fading candlelight.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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