NATTEFROST: Skaldic Themes (2017)
Updated: Sep 28
“There is a lot of music and ideas for such a short time in this particularly good but short album which is Skaldic Themes”
1 Spirits of the Dead 9:03
2 Scandinavia 4:34
3 The Gate of the Gods 4:46
4 The Longships 11:33
5 Illusions of Past and Future 4:36
(Vinyl, CD/DDL 34:34) (V.F.)
This is Nattefrost's last studio album that I still haven't heard before. True that Bjorn Jeppesen is working on the return of his band with a next album expected for next October. It's therefore quite appropriate to write about SKALDIC THEMES, a short 34-minute album that follows Homeland's footsteps and which shows all the talent of Bjorn Jeppesen in concocting an EM with tracks that have a very commercial flavor without denying music pushed into the territories of a progressive EM.
Spirits of the Dead puts us in the moods of Futurized with an opening rich of its arcade game tones, like science fiction films. Otherwise, all the possible artefacts of cosmic EM. There are still chords that are formed from these sonic remains, establishing a metallurgical language that seems blurry, or just floating around waiting for communication. It's in this expectation that Nattefrost organizes its rhythmic rush with arpeggios disguised as balls of rhythms that go everywhere, without ever creating anything very homogeneous. This is how the first 4 minutes of Spirits of the Dead live in a state of industrial droop when the second part starts around the 5th minute. The rhythm is conceived by a carpet of sequences which vibrate in a stationary state but which good percussions, with a small tint of Jean-Michel Jarre, lead in a good cosmic rock that a synth winds through with a melodious line. Bjorn Jeppesen likes to play around the legends of the Scandinavian peoples. Scandinavia supports this thesis with a dark rhythm flowing in continuous fluid oscillations. These flexible comings and goings roam like an army of specters inside an old house that years have battered. Keyboard chords, as well as their slightly fuzzy shadows, lay the foundations for an evanescent melody whose short presences give it an appearance of an ancestral rhyme dedicated to wandering ghosts. Catchy and melodious, The Gate of the Gods is the hit announced of SKALDIC THEMES. Its rhythm is catchy with good electronic percussions assisted by cosmic and vocoder effects which adjust rather well to its fluidity. The ritornello of arpeggios that tumble down and cling to this framework of great cosmic rock weaves a melody which gets anchored with delight in our ears.
The Longships is a long title that could have been even longer, there are so many elements in its 11 minutes. Its opening consists of sound effects from a Drakkar docking the quay on a full moon night. Night spirits, like those of wolves, take many tonal forms. Both disturbing and soothing. It's in this sibylline ambience that solitary arpeggios leave the lookout to join a line of rhythm which flirts with a techno still germinating in the head of its designer. Meanwhile, the sequences and the arpeggios intersect their rhythmic blasts in a static broth. The mellotron wakes up and lets out a tender fluty chant in this hubbub of rhythm which is tied to lively pulsations around the 4 minutes. This melody has already conquered our senses with its vision of the Middle East in its scents that a layer of fog rises with the effects of absent voices, throwing even more mysticism to The Longships. The germ leaves the head of its creator to initiate a good techno which revives the 3rd phase of the title which leaves us with a good seraphic melody. See, all the elements were in place to create a 20 minute musical saga. Minimum! A buzzing note shakes the introductory silence of Illusions of Past and Future. Good orchestral layers, assisted by a melodious synth, lead its first moments. When an organ pad falls, the swell begins to roll like multiple kicks. This static movement restores its jerks which sound like those which flooded the ambiences of the Magnetic Fields before melting into the crashing of the oceans. An orchestral finale which has nothing more to say, if not this voice of Sarah Elgeti who whispers to us that the only thing true are these last moments of a life. I would rather say that too; there is a lot of music and ideas for such a short time in this particularly good but short album which is SKALDIC THEMES.
Sylvain Lupari (July 20th, 2020) ****¼*
Available at Nattefrost Bandcamp