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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Sverre Knut Johansen The Newborn Child (2021)

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

The Newborn Child is symphonic EM that flirts with Dark Ambient

1 The Newborn Child 5:29

2 Filius Dei 4:09

3 Bird of Freedom 3:38

4 Öræfajökull Glacier 7:43

5 Exalted 4:20

6 Aliquid Mirabile 4:57

7 Bird of Freedom (Epic) 3:21

8 Genesis 1.1 6:00

9 Something Beautiful 3:18

10 The light of Eternity 7:30

11 Öræfajökull Glacier Pt.2 5:46

12 B.C. (Dark Cloud) 5:13

13 Genesis 1.2 8:18

(DDL 69:44) (V.F.)

(Symphonic Dark Ambient EM)

The first symphonic breaths emerge from a dull hum. The synth layers metamorphose into wind instruments, like oboes, among orchestrations of violins and a real cello, played by Henrik Silfverhielm, which give this overwhelming texture to the title-track of Sverre Knut Johansen's new album, THE NEWBORN CHILD. Layers of heavenly voices add a lyrical dimension to an ambient music warmed by good orchestrations and where Ann-Margrit Siegrist Silfverhielm's vocals add a dramatic emotional weight to this track that gains in intensity after the 4 minute point. If you're a fan of symphonic electronic music (EM), this latest album from the Norwegian bard will fascinate you, from the opening breaths of The Newborn Child to the final buzzing breath of Genesis 1.2. In between, the musician from Mo i Rana composes the outlines of an ambient, symphonic musical journey that goes back to Creation with a dystopian backdrop. The result transcends his progressive New Age style with a mostly rhythmless music driven by synth impulses and orchestration layers.

The very intense and poignant Filius Dei is forged in this sense. Buzzing breezes tinkle bells as horns and other wind instruments slowly strategize to implant a texture of intensity. Cello, voices, and layers of voices are joining in this birth of an emotional storm that grips the final third of Filius Dei. Describing this track, as well as The Newborn Child (click in the blue to see video), is like describing the vast majority of the other 60 minutes of this album. The structures are very similar with nuanced intonations in the harmonies that have that sibylline vision and moods that are rarely lyrical. The progressions and the changes of phases carry more or less the same seal of creativity. After the suspense of Bird of Freedom, Öræfajökull Glacier is inspired by a photo report from Ragnar Axelsson to establish a soundtrack captured live, without overdubbing. Its beginning is slow, almost distressing, with an orchestral evolution which makes the ambiences more relaxed. If you have the chance to see the pictures on the Net, you can see some amazing landscapes that respond very well to this musical happening whose evolution is done gently before reaching its climax which metamorphoses into a texture of dark ambient that the beautiful voice of Ann-Margrit Siegrist Silfverhielm manages to soften. Chills guaranteed! Its second part, Öræfajökull Glacier Pt.2, answers a little better to these landscapes sculpted by the imagination and the messages of Mother Nature.

Like I wrote earlier, each track develops itself a little bit in the same pattern by sectioning their phases which go from melodious to dark. Something Beautiful is a sweet philharmonic lullaby with strings instruments that follows the dark moments of intensity of tracks like Exalted, Aliquid Mirabile and its extremely enchanting video that can be viewed on the album's Bandcamp site, B.C. (Dark Cloud) and the more tortuous Genesis 1.1. The strings that open The light of Eternity have this gloomy texture that we find in several movements on THE NEWBORN CHILD. The battle between darkness and lightness is discreet and unconquerable as the synthesized violins throw in snippets of bittersweet melodies with a more fiery vision. Slightly more intense and changing than its first part, Genesis 1.2 accurately depicts this balance and evolution of each of the tracks on this new album by Sverre Knut Johansen with a more ideal time-space for this kind of composition.

There's no hiding; THE NEWBORN CHILD favors a more orchestral than electronic progressive approach in concise structures that leave little room for sudden changes of direction. It flows very well between the ears, and everything is tempered and designed on structures that evolve around the same axis with some good peaks of intensity and emotionality randomly placed in the 70 minutes of this album available only as a download. It's symphonic EM that flirts with Dark Ambient.

Sylvain Lupari (December 28th, 2021) *****

Available at Sverre Knut Johansen Bandcamp

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