ELEGI: Varde (Miasmah Recordings)


Posted on Jan 22nd 2009 01:48 am

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Elegi: Varde

Miasmah Recordings 2009
12 Tracks. 53mins46secs

Elegi’s Tommy Jansen returns to the contaminated shore of Erik Skodvin’s Miasmah with the follow up to his 2007 debut album Sistereis, and adds another shade of noire to an already sombre catalogue. In the ten years the label has been around, in one form or another, Miasmah have carved a perfect niche for themselves by releasing some of the most haunting and dark music around, from artists such as Greg Haines, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Gultskra Artikler or Encre.

Two years ago, Norwegian musician and composer Tommy Jansen, delivered a first opus that paced up and down the desolated no man’s land between minimal contemporary classical music and isolationist electronica. With force grainy textures, created out of found sounds, and slow moving drapes of electronic sound waves, Jansen was drawing the outlines of a trilogy of which Varde is the second instalment.

Inspired by polar exploration, especially the 1912 Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole led by British Royal Navy officer Captain Roger Scott, which ended in tragedy when the five members of the expedition perished on the return leg of their journey, Varde is an impressive second effort by the Norwegian musician. Jansen weaves some particularly glacial soundscapes here, developing further the dense magma-like forms that he showcased on Sistereis. It is as if everything was intensified. The found sounds seem eroded by a long process of oxidation, the tones are more intense, and the overall pace appears even slower and more dramatic. To complete his sound palette, additional musicians provide layers of acoustic instrumentation, violin on Skrugard and RÃ¥k,, musical saw on Skrugard, Drivis and Fandens Bre, percussions on Drivis and Fandens Bre and double bass on Svanesang, and accentuate the organic feel of Jansen’s compositions.

The sound formations are so dense and tight that it is often virtually impossible to disassociate the musical elements and the environmental noises, but, on RÃ¥k especially, the violin adds an incredibly haunting and human touch to the music. Elsewhere though, the pieces remain shrouded in thick clouds of sound, with, at times, the lone tone of a piano, a sudden gust of wind or the distant howl of a wolf for sole focal point.

Varde, which translates as cairn, a pile of stones used as a monument, is as cold and inhospitable as its predecessor, but, somehow, Jansen seem to have given some of the musical aspects of his work more relief and definitions. While drones still form integrant part of the music, melodies, while still very much set deep in the mix, give out an occasional warm glow throughout.


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One Response to “ELEGI: Varde (Miasmah Recordings)”

  1. mapsadaisicalon 28 Jan 2009 at 1:41 pm

    A wonderful and evocative record, one of my favourites of the year.