Norway - Full Moon 212 - 12/17/13
This is Tirill's third solo album. With the previous Nine And Fifty Swans two years ago she visited Ireland and the lyrical world of W.B. Yeats. This time she has gone back to ancient Nordic themes to find inspiration. The press sheet reads something like this: 'Um Himinjǫður is no less than a journey into the world and fundamental values of the songwriter, with an experiment of thought: how would we shape the world if it was created anew right there in front of our eyes? Which values would we keep and which traditions would we reject? What would we consider important and what unimportant? Would we choose different for the development of ourselves and the world, or would we take the same course anew?' No less, indeed!
The album title is taken from an old Nordic collection of poems, The Older Edda of the Viking era, about the creation of the world and means something like The Edge Of The Sky, the course the sun took when it rose for the first time. Another interpretation is Horses Of The Sky, two horses in Nordic mythology that pulled the sun and moon across the sky each day and night. The album take advantage of both interpretations in the lyrics and cover drawings. The lyrics give no answers to how this world ought to be organised. They are mainly poetic and evocative, might be used to zerofill the mind. The booklet includes one close-up photo of solid rock for each song, reflecting the origins of the world rather than the music. Here are no traces of solid rock music. The songs are hushed down, mainly acoustic and poetic, like the words. Tirill's musical landscape is somewhere between singer-songwriter and mature melancholic pop, interspersed with some folk flavours and a few progressive elements. She sings and plays acoustic guitar, violin, keyboards and percussion herself and is helped out by a host of excellent Norwegian and a couple of ditto Greek musicians. They include members from White Willow, the progressive outfit where she was a part of some 15-20 years ago, her current band project Autumn Whispers, a few who contributed to her first two albums and some new ones, even a household name of more mature and mainstream Norwegian pop and jazz, Susanne Fuhr (vocals). The album is dominated by acoustic guitars, violin, cello, flutes and mellow vocals. But here are a few electric guitars, organs, a mighty Mellotron and an exotic tsimpalo (a Greek version of the cimbalom, I suspect) as well.
At first listen the two most instant pop songs stand out. "Fagrar Enn Sol" (More Beautiful Than The Sun) has a catchy uplifting chorus in contrast to the dominating melancholia of the rest of the album. Here are two acoustic guitar solos as well, with a classical touch. Beautiful! It's followed by "Serpent", not that pop'ish, more melancholic folk, but cling to the brain cells quite instantly. In addition it has some exotic stints, sounding Middle Eastern to me, but they might as well be Greek. The opening "Voluspå" is the most characteristic Nordic folk-song around, the title and lyrics taken from the first part of The Older Edda with the story of the creation of the world mentioned above, sung in duo Jan Tariq Rui-Rahman (I suspect) who also provides that fascinating two harmony recorder solo. "Muzzled" is another with even more male vocals. Also a beauty, lifted by a haunting cello and the harmonious chorus where Tirill's voice joins in. I also have a weak spot for the most progressive of the lot, "Moira", dominated by an airy floating Mellotron. I never get tired of Mellotron in combination with acoustic guitar, and with a sublime melody, exquisite electric guitar and interspersed with hushed-down relaxed completely acoustic parts, the end result is as brilliant as can be. Goose-bumps all over!
The remaining songs are not far behind, mainly quiet, elegantly arranged and beautiful; growers with repeated listing, apart from the sonorous tsimpalo (I guess) opening and smouldering organ solos with drums and all of "In Their Eyes", the epic of the album, more than nine minutes long. I guess the album mainly will appeal to grown-ups that want the soundtrack of their lives to be calm and harmonious but seek substance beyond mere background euphony. Younger people who seek something poetic far away from music dominated by rhythms also ought to check out what Tirill has to offer: 'Wisdom whispering softly, echoing', as the first line of "In Their Eyes" goes.
Copyright © 2013 JP