Renhet I is the first of two recordings German ambient artist Til Det Bergens Skyggene has created as successor to his s/t demo from earlier in the year. Unlike Til Det Bergens Skyggene itself, the Renhet saga is not being issued through the Lord Vranevorn's Voldsom imprint, but produced in an even more limited quantity which he will distribute directly. I must count myself lucky to receive such things, because Renhet continues to entwine the project's edge of utter gloom with plucky and unexpected melodies that grant it a broader emotional depth than one might predict from its grim, natural surface. And, really, I must count myself lucky in that I just don't hear enough of this sort of project, at least not of this quality. Til Det Bergens Skygenne carries all of the rare charm of Burzum's underrated midi work Daudi Bauldrs, or those earlier Mortiis titles before that Norse troll became an electrophile and begun to hang out within the Gothic/fetish element.
Yes, Renhat I is dark, but also strangely alluring and uplifting as it shifts through its 27 minute landscape of varied textures, strings and orchestrations provided through the simple sampling of a keyboard. For some, such a work might seem an aesthetic turnoff, since it doesn't feature the acoustic orchestration of bigger names in the ambient or film score scenes, but personally I do admire the authenticity of one individual sitting at a single instrument, not to mention the most plausibly variable single instrument, and bearing the shades of his or her soul directly to tape. And, like it's predecessor, Renhet I achieves this admirably, first with the arching grandeur of the solemn "Om det rene... (Of purity...)" and its sweeping, mountainside atmosphere; then with a decidedly more quirky piece in "Rovjakt (Preyhunt)", which flirts with both its namesake scent of blood in the most dalliant, marching fashion. Odd string-like synthesizer lines are strung across an almost playful, lower piano backdrop, and the bridge uses its melodic percussion almost like a xylophone of blood droplets in the snow.
It's quite impressive how a piece like that one can create a contrast of playfulness and terror, but this is then abated by the next piece, a deepening, dark acoustic beauty known as "Når Dagen Går (When the day dies away)" which is also the most compelling piece I've yet heard from this project. "Åtsel Og Skogbryn (Carrion and the edge of the forest...)" returns to the morbid toil and trail music of "Royjakt", but with a more brooding palette, almost as if the hunt was nearing its climax and the predator's fangs were about to sink into the victim. Yet this too throws us for a loop with its elegant, almost lounge-worthy bridge. For the closer, "Om det hevede... (Of augustness...), Lord Vranevorn returns to the sweeping, almost panoramic view of the wild that was created by the opener, and it's a fitting finale to a journey that enveloped both the great and small perspectives of the struggles inherent to an untouched, natural world.
Needless to say, with its strong conceptual bearing, I found Renhet I to be superior to the s/t in its captive qualities, and delighted by how it manages to grasp the listener into its shadowy, carnal truths while never abandoning the swath of sunlight that strikes each day through the canopy of the treeline to the forest floor. If I had a complaint, it's just that more people need to hear this! More need to listen to this sort of un-trampled soil of the imagination. Clearly, there are precedents to such a recording, but the authentic range of cold and bloodied emotions here is unshakable and incurable. I couldn't wait to tackle the second half.
Verdict: Win [8.25/10]