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Elegi - Varde

CD
 

This winter, Norwegian composer Elegi (Tommy Jansen) returns with 'Varde', the second installment of a trilogy on Miasmah Recordings. 'Varde' (translates: cairn - a pile of stones, used as a monument or marker), tells the story of the pioneer polar explorers who risked their lives to go to some of the most hostile places on earth, to conquer land and to 'triumph', over the elements. Inspired by this, Elegi's music explores the feelings those brave men must have felt, as they went into the unknown, well aware that they might never see their families again. Ice cold winds and blizzards, creaking ice, stormy waters, constant hunger, isolation, disease and death, provide the basis for the music, depicting the immensity and scale of these great white landscapes.

'Varde' is an incredibly accomplished body of work, its natural progression of movements transporting the listener through cinematic soundscapes and evocative passages of intense, doom-laden, droning acoustic instruments. The eerie, underlying sounds taken from seemingly unrecognizable sources, add to the feelings of unresolved tension, and with them bring into focus the ambition of the compositions - the likes of which can be found in the later work of Scott Walker.

The album's opening tracks, it could be suggested, recall aspects of the slow-build of Gorecki's 3rd Symphony, with the murk of Gavin Bryars' 'The Sinking Of The Titanic' album; a hollow-sounding and desolate part-composed/part-improvised harmony. A sorrowful solo violin emerging from the abstract ambience sets the tone for this journey, musically a reflection of the lonely voyager's terrain; something at once so utterly desolate yet so equally staggering in its awe-inspiring beauty. As the journey progresses, the compositions shift through the barren lands, instilling an array of emotions; despair and confusion, loss, hope and determination, always with a constant and unrelenting sense of movement forward.

This time around Tommy wanted to bring in extra help from musicians he admired, to give the record an extra dimension, with violin, percussion, double bass and musical saw. Elegi operates in the area between composed and improvised music, building bridges between classical music and dark ambient drones and textures. It's often difficult to tell where the music ends and the sound-design begins. His love for Victorian story telling shines through as expected. Imagine Edgar Allan Poe as a music composer and you might get an idea of what this sounds like.


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