Contemporary music from everywhere

Glåsbird – Svalbarð


Couple of things you should know if you’re considering a move to Svalbarð, the archipelago that lies inside the Arctic Circle, between Norway and the North Pole. First, get used to reindeer and polar bears. A lot of them. With a hypercarnivorous bear population something close to 3,000, they outnumber the locals by about 15 per cent. Second, there’s a new album out you should add to your collection. Glåsbird has released the second in his series of location-specific recordings, and it’s all about you.

Svalbarð follows the February release of Grønland. Both are heart-stopping ambient beauties combining northern-lights ambient drones with delicately performed piano. Certainly not a new approach to the genre, but Glåsbird pulls it off wonderfully.

There is a deceiving complexity to both titles. The electronics ease their way across each piece in such a calming fashion that it’s possible to miss the various layers that make up each drone. In fact, there is much to take in on each of these 10 new pieces. Add to that gentle flourishes of electroacoustic and new classical sounds and you get a disc steeped in far-north mystique.

Besides the fact that the two albums focus on different locales, what makes this new effort different is the (somewhat) lo-fi approach employed on Svalbarð. The tape hiss is less noticeable as the album progresses. But if you put both discs on a playlist and hit shuffle, you’ll hear the difference immediately. It is a subtle, but striking difference.

We’ve been told to expect a third release in the series sometime next year. Because Glåsbird is a side project produced by an unnamed artist, there’s no telling how many of these we will get or how quickly they’ll be produced. Based on this first pair of entries, we hope the answer is a lot and very.

Kevin Press

The Moderns, vols. 1 and 2, by Kevin Press are available exclusively from Amazon.


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