BREIDABLIK: Alduorka (2022)
Updated: Jan 7
“From violent to dreamy, there is great EM by the inch square in this album”
1 Alda 20:52
2 Orka I 3:25
3 Rán 3:56
4 Hraznō 7:42
5 Himinglæva ok Kolga 7:06
6 Orka II 4:33
Apollon Records Prog ARP053CD
(LP/CD/DDL 47:34) (V.F.)
(Dark ambient Prog Berlin School)
I love the music of Breidablik! Over the years Morten Birkeland Nielsen's band has made solid albums that integrated a progressive electronic music (EM) vision with the vintage Berlin School structures that the Scandinavian band got us used to with the arrival of Penumbra in 2017. If Omicron was flirting with excellence, ALDUORKA is! Even his most vulnerable moment, Himinglæva ok Kolga, finds its way to enchant us. Yet Morten has never been so unconvinced of an album than this one. He had a fear that the audience would find it difficult to live with a much more progressive approach. And yet! This album inspired by the movement of ocean water and its waves is excellent from A to Z. First of all, the influence of Tangerine Dream is gone! There is a fabulous Heldon imprint in this album where the Berlin School is no more different here than elsewhere. A small masterpiece from our little Norwegian band.
The sequencer is very active in the opening of Alda. It structures a rhythm line that climbs a perpetual wheel while releasing another rhythm line, more in bass mode, that rolls in its shadow. This makes for an excellent Berlin School with these two ascending lines woven so tightly that no nano seconds of space reside between each jumping key. The synth throws these waves and shadows with strange screams, giving this sibylline texture that floods the senses while a pulsating bass line adds a stroboscopic dimension to Alda that quietly erodes its movement of rhythmic waves before reaching the 6th minute. This is followed by a phase of ambiences as intense as that of the rhythm with multiple synth layers of which the steel blue color flirts with scarlet. These layers hover in a structured setting for a good dose of dark ambient. Another rhythmic structure seduces our ears some 6 other minutes later. Although ascending, the movement is more moderate and also relies on electric six-string riffs that Håkon Oftung unrolls in loops, while creating a good dose of floating solos. These are good solos that reach emotional peaks when held in a horizontal circle form. When the guitar falls silent, the rhythm loses some of its turmoil temporarily to reappear in dense layers of voices and chthonian shadows.
A hyper-lively track, Orka I reveals its nature with a movement of the sequencer getting out of a mute synth layer. Sparkling and bouncing in an ascending form, the movement is harpooned by good percussions. V'ganðr's bass is deadly with an efficient playing that follows the shape of the sequencer. Quietly, our minds light up with a feeling that we've heard this sound before. And when the guitar, furious and precise in its solos, lands in our ears, we immediately think of Richard Pinhas in East-West and also of George Grünblatt in the excellent K-Priss. Rán offers a nice texture of floating music with waves that add up and push the others in a good setting of implosions. There is a delicate texture of voices in this track that deepens its abstruse side. Still relating to the waves, Hraznō grabs at our ears with a good Berlin School spiced with organic elements and flavored with beautiful flute solos. If the first part of Hraznō is lyrical, its second part takes the path of a furious Berlin School. A Berlin School rolling on a sequencer with no bits of emptiness between the jumping keys and where the guitar attempts an invasion of solos that are timid versus the voracity of the rhythm. One also arrives on Himinglæva ok Kolga by the noise of the waves on the banks. Its hatching allows the guitar to launch harmonies with heavy riff tones in the chords. A slight circular rhythm movement, arched over the fruit of a sequencer with limpid arpeggios swirling like an astral rhyme, leads Oftung to give more emotion to his solos. The guitarist swaps his six-strings for his flute, while the sequencer polishes its arpeggios which bring a more poetic vision to a night lullaby developing unceasingly in an atmospheric turmoil. A very good track for sensitive souls. I didn't have enough of Orka I! Then Orka II arrives with a more rock texture à la Heldon with a furious play of Trond Gjellum on drums over the limpid play of the sequencer of which the twinning with the drums is quite simply exceptional.
What a magnificent album! Available from February 11th on the Apollon Records Prog label, ALDUORKA has no dead moment. From violent to dreamy by going to a good fusion between Prog and Berlin School, this album sails on a seductive sea of styles all interconnected. There is great EM by the inch square in this album that will be available on vinyl as well as on CD and in downloadable format. Hats off to you gentlemen of Breidablik!
Sylvain Lupari (January 7th, 2022) *****
Available at Apollon Records Prog Bandcamp