Posted on Mar 22nd 2011 01:34 am
Rune Grammofon 2011
08 Tracks. 38mins48secs
Beside the challenging experimental work that they have been gathering for over ten years, Rune Grammofon have, on occasions, opened their doors to female songstresses, of which Susanna Wallumrød, with or without her Magical Orchestra, is undoubtedly the best known. Now joining Wallumrød and Hilde Marie Kjersem, who released her second album, A Killer For That Ache, on the label in 2008, is Phaedra, with a stunning debut album, The Sea, a collection of gentle aerial psychedelic folk-infused songs.
Phaedra is the solo project of Norwegian singer songwriter Ingvild Langgård. A former student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, Langgård has worked with a number of media over the years, from films and photography to art installations and vocal work. On her debut album, not only is she responsible for writing and composing, but she also plays most of the instruments, including acoustic guitar, piano, zither, harmonium, Fender Rhodes, mbira (a thumb piano), synth, glockenspiel and chimes, did all string arrangements and co-produced the record with Frode Jacobsen. Far from operating on her own though, she is surrounded by a handful of musicians throughout the album.
The first in a song cycle trilogy of ‘fragments of homegrown mythology, physical and spiritual metamorphosis, death, the other side and losing your soul’, The Sea is an exquisite collection of folk songs brushed with gentle touches of psychedelia. At the heart of these songs is Langgård’s wonderfully dreamy and ethereal voice, a voice which is at once earthy and breathy; a voice which gains considerable evocative power when layered into poetic harmonies (Black Dog, The Sea), or becomes enigmatic without losing any of its appeal when reversed (Oserian). There is, at times, a virtuosity to her performance which challenges melodies into heady heights (The First To Die, The Darkest Hour), while at others, she keeps to much simpler forms to let her lyrics flourish.
While appearing stripped down and straightforward, Langgård’s songs are in fact fairly complex little vignettes. She crafts intricate melodies, opting for less obvious progressions, yet she retains a great level of fluidity throughout. Equally, while the orchestrations often appear extremely simple, based on just a few instruments, closer inspection reveals just how beautifully assembled and layered some of these soundscapes really are. Opening song Death Will Come for instance continually evolves from the delicate core of instruments used to give it a dreamy feel, while the acoustic guitar and string work or The First To Die, Black Dog or Sister are so intricately woven together that they it is almost as if they were one. On
If she is often compared to Susanna Wallumrød, Ingvild Langgård is actually quite a different performer. Her greater range allows for much more complex melodic structures, while her richer tones play on a totally different emotional scale. The Sea is a stunning record from start to finish, and continues to charm with each new listen.
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