|Comments and reviews ....
Nattefrost is Bjorn Jeppesen from
Norway. To make things a little easier for the majority of our audience I
have decided to use the
English versions of the track titles instead of the Norwegian. A twangy
bass loop provides a rather aggressive start to 'Towards
Lindisfarne'. Spooky drones hover through urgent stabs of energy. There
are some excellent manipulated vocal sounds that give
proceedings an even greater feeling of unease- that bass loop not letting
up 'Sailing through deep Valleys' is less in your face,
fizzing melodic pads being the main feature without masking a
predominantly edgy feel to proceedings. Timpani provides a little
structure, more syncopation is then added in the form of a militaristic
'At War' is a symphonic sounding
track with exquisite sawing strings over a slow beat. It may be short but
it's absolutely superb.
Warning beacon type bass pulses initially provide the main structure for
'The Battle that lasted Eternally'. The mood is softened
by a lovely melodic loop. This melody morphs becoming a little more
whimsical but with some fascinating contrasting distorted
vocal effects, like lost souls searching for a home. The way the pulses,
melodies and spectral sounds mix together is fascinating.
'The Sword' uses a series of melodic tones, a little like 'Close
Encounters...' which are then mimicked by double bass, Violin (I
think!) and vibes. A short but bizarre track! 'Storming the Enemy' is one
of the stranger organ pieces I have heard- Cesar Franck
maybe! 'The Warriors of the Tower' uses metallic, percussive, staccato
notes to create quite an exciting pace but also mesmerizing
melody. Curious indeed.
'Night Frost' (or in Norwegian,
Nattefrost) again features strangely manipulated sawing strings over an
aggressive growling drone.
A little melody tries to escape from the middle of the mix but can't
compete against the drone and strings. A bell rings out for 'My
Pagan Blood'. Smaller chimes and other percussion are added then a sort of
bastardised harpsichord. Lack of inventiveness is
certainly something that Bjorn can't be accused of! It all sounds rather
strange but it's curiously effective. About half way in some
mellow strings are added and we now enter a rather compelling cinematic
section. An excellent track- my favourite on the album.
'Winter Solstice' takes us back to spooky realms with dark drones and
twittering effects. Strange percussive detail adds an extra
level of unease.
'Near UFO' is initially much more
lush with lovely velvet pads, an intriguing lead line / melody and then an
This is probably the most accessible track on the album- even a bit Jarre
like! There is still a good dose of inventiveness thrown
in there though. It's also quite a powerful track- up until the fifth
minute anyway when things change completely becoming quite
bleepy- like being trapped in a computer! Then it's all change again as an
edgy loop and contrasting soft pads take things forward
only to become weirder and weirder as we progress. Maybe we are now in the
strange interior of the UFO itself. It's certainly rather
descriptive music that I am sure will conjure up as many images as there
are people who listen to it. We finish the first disc with a
remix of 'My Pagan Blood' by Tor Brandt, and very different it is too.
Melodically it is just as brilliant but there is more menace here,
the demonic vocal utterances being particularly effective.
'The Face of the Ancient Forest'
is initially full of brooding malevolence but then suddenly a sublime
little melody shines through
like a powerful beam of light cutting through mist to illuminate the
forest floor. An incredibly atmospheric and 100% wonderful piece.
There's a radical change for 'Where the Gods are Watching' as a bouncy,
almost happy sequence skips along, accompanied by an
equally joyous staccato melody. There is a twist though as everything is
underpinned by almost growling pads. The juxtaposition of
the two contrasting elements is fascinating. 'The Magic of the Burial
Mound' (I have a feeling that this title looses something in
translation) gets off to breakneck speed with an energetic twangy
sequence. Soft breathy pads and twittery effects provide pleasant
backing. In the third minute the sequence disappears, to be replaced by
vast bass crashes like some enormous mallet hammering
on the very earth.
'In a Forgotten Time' returns us
to vast dark drones, then a melodic percussive loop. Slow mournful strings
play over the top. Things
become more symphonic and cinematic by the moment. It's another moody but
rather 'visual' number. 'Norse' is a return to sequencer
driven territory, the bass pulsations forming a wonderful structure round
which skip delicate melodies. It is not the Nattefrost way
however to let things just run as after a few minutes moody drones replace
the sequence and the melodies become increasingly
sedate and 'thoughtful'. Another lovely track. 'The Road to Asgard' just
oozes brooding menace as a bass sequence mixes with an
uneasy echoing melody, the sound of the wind and sampled eerie text. We
now get a series of three remixes. The first is 'Where the
Gods are Watching' by Claud Holm Lynglund and I must admit that I can find
very little comparison to the original! It is all rather bleepy
with a funky beat- not my cup of tea I'm afraid. Forgotten Time' by
deZeptive is again nothing like the other version. Here it has been
transformed into something of a trance track full of infectious beats and
brooding melodies. Even though I would not have recognised
it as a companion to the original it is nevertheless a very enjoyable body
mover. Carsten Ji's interpretation of 'The Road to Asgard'
does have more of a resemblance to the source material but as with the
previous remix it is infused with a rather cool rhythm. This
treatment again works very well imparting real energy but without blunting
the feeling of menace.
I have never been to Norway
(though would love to go) so I have only what I have read in books and
seen on TV to influence my
imagination but the music of Nattefrost could be the perfect soundtrack to
my mental pictures of such a place. I wonder if I am
just jumping to the wrong conclusions or if indeed Bjorn's homeland did
play a large part in what we have here. It is a rather different
album to his Groove releases, edgier and demanding a little more of the
listener. There is always something going on- one point of
discussion after another. I just couldn't stop writing whilst listening to
it- thus the length of even this edited down revue. To me it
demonstrated more than any other album I have heard by him just how
talented a composer he is. It is not going to be to everyone's
tastes but I am sure I will keep returning to it as I know there will be
always something new to discover- and I haven't ever heard
anything quite like it before.
David Law / Synth