NATTEFROST: Homeland (2014)
Updated: Apr 13
“With Homeland Nattefrost goes out of his comfort zone by surfing on a great model of Berlin School which shines of a more accessible approach”
1 The Golden Age 1:30
2 Dance of the Elves 3:33
3 Norse 6:29
4 Divine Light 8:04
5 At War 5:49
6 Homeland 20:23
Sireena Records | SIR4026 (LP)
(CD/DDL 45:45) (V.F.)
Nattefrost is a worthy representative of Scandinavian. Each album, apart from Futurized, is inspired by the tales and legends of this immense territory which was the cradle of the mythical Vikings. HOMELAND is no exception! Abandoning this very sci-fi approach of Futurized, Bjorn Jeppesen returns to his first love by signing an album which is a delicious fusion between the symphonic and cinematic approach of From Distant Times, At War, and his electronic hymns, Divine Light, which immediately grab the attention and which made the delights of his first albums. The result is amazing. In fact, Nattefrost presents his most beautiful album. From the first minute to the last seconds of Homeland, Nattefrost creates a crescendo that gives chills. Both in the emotions and in the back! It's one of the jewels of 2014 that has almost passed under my nose. Nattefrost, which is very popular in his Copenhagen, presented HOMELAND in a limited edition of 500 vinyl albums of 180 grams produced by the label Sireena Records. Out of print in this format, HOMELAND reappears in CD manufactured on Nattefrost label.
The cold winds of the Scandinavian plains sweep the horizons of The Golden Age, blowing clouds of rock dust that fragment the evanescent harmonies of the wavy synth lines. Short but effective, The Golden Age extends the dramatic elements of the album with dark and resonant chords that leave an imprint of mystery. Little longer, Dance of the Elves nestles at the bottom of our eardrums with good melodious arpeggios which draw the lines of a melody as virginal as devilish where each note which falls dance with doubtful shadows and linear pulsations whose fast beats still extend an ambient rhythm structure. The counterweight between light and darkness, hot and cold, is crying of reality. Very gently and innocently, the charms of HOMELAND extend their grip. Strange black winds inject misty atmospheres. They accompany the lively movement of Norse's wavy-like pulsations. The structure, with its melody which makes its arpeggios ringing resonating with limpidity, and the furtive approach of a rhythm drummed by bass sequences, like an accelerated war march, takes up here a bit the model of Dance of the Elves, but in a clearly more elaborate context and with a structure of rhythm which offers beautiful oscillations full of nuances. The race ends in a very cinematic ambience with a long atmospheric passage that truncates the last 3 minutes of a mesmerizing rhythm like a party that precedes a war. The colors in Norse are breathtaking and testify to this maturity that seized the signature of Bjorn Jeppesen since From Distant Times done with Matzumi. Now, each Nattefrost album brings its catchy title. We would have thought of Norse or the Babylonian At War. But no! The award goes to Divine Light and to its very catchy rhythm which must first and foremost extract itself from a magma of synth lines whose tangles as mired as gargoyling tones are clubbed by the rolls of timpani percussions. The combustion of this static movement spits arches of fire whose radiations forge the bed of a rhythm that bas sequences draw from its static environment in order to lay down a fluid rhythm which gallops in very catchy percussions' strikes. From a melodic IDM, the rhythm of Divine Light offers harmonic adornments with arpeggio lines that parade or even hum in benches of ethereal mists and of ambiospheric elements that give the title an attractive oneiric depth. It will become one of the good titles in the repertoire of Bjorn Jeppesen. At War is titanic! Catchy and heavy, it's intensely orchestral. And the illusion of seeing an army of vile gnomes crossing the field of our visions is great. The rolls of the bass drums, the lamentations of the vanquished, the philharmonic envelopes and the groans of the beasts of war are rendered with extreme precision. We feel the intensity, the drama in this Vangelis' kind of track.
With the title-track, Nattefrost leaves his comfort zone by offering a long title of about twenty minutes. A bet whose last attempt dates to The Road to Asgard in 2004. The music offers a good evolution, as well as subtle nuances in the harmonic tones and in colors tinged by dramatic effects. Cinematographic atmospheres are always present with synth waves and winds which seem to blow on a field of a battle which knew its tragic end on the edges of a Scandinavian shore. Touching effects feed this introduction with dark winds, percussions and electronic chirps. A rhythm rises. Arched on bass sequences, it vacillates like a lost soul before clinging to a structure solidified by these percussions whose so different tones are part of HOMELAND wealth. The synth deploys snippets of harmonies as evanescent as unfinished while the rhythm follows a more sustained course. The pace is perfumed of organic perfumes. The iridescent sequences dance with their doubles, thus giving a structure of rhythm which bubbles in a multidimensional envelope and leaving to the pulsations and the percussions the direction of a rhythm which is adorned with fine nuances in order to avoid the redundancy traps. And it's working! Very electronic, between the Berlin School both vintage and contemporary and a form of IDM with impulses imbued with retentions, the structure offers variances and phases of jerks here and there which enhance the charm effect. The sequencing pattern is also very good. And when it becomes sober, the ambiences, always quite dark, enhance the approach of this long title whose perpetual evolution towards more ambiospheric lands goes down the ear like a letter in the mail. It's very well made! And this long title, adorned with good arrangements and good twists, demonstrates the mastery of Bjorn Jeppesen, both on its history and the way he went about setting it to music.
And that concludes a very good album. An amazing album even, if we consider its very Berlin School approach and this very accessible little side unique to the music of Nattefrost. In fact, the Berlin School style has never been more accessible than with this HOMELAND. Very recommendable!
Sylvain Lupari (February 28th, 2015) ****½*
Available at Nattefrost Bandcamp