Norway - Full Moon 228 - 04/04/15
The White Birch
The Weight Of Spring
'Life, as it awakes, as it fades, and the time in between. When we lose our strength, and remember things not happened yet.' Ready for some transparent and lucid musical experience? Enter the inner space of The White Birch's The Weight Of Spring.
The White Birch folded in 2006. No, The White Birch took a break in mid-2006, but White Birch-head Ola Fløttum (go see our interview with Fløttum from 2002) put his project on hold, shelved for a while. For some years. The band which used to be a three-piece (plus some additional friends and players) counting multi-instrumentalist Fløttum, bass player/keyboardist/songwriter Ulf Rogde, plus Hans Christian Almendingen on drums and percussion, released three praised albums 'back in the day'; People Now Human Beings (dBut, 1998), the masterpiece Star Is Just A Sun (Glitterhouse, 2002), and Come Up For Air (Glitterhouse, 2005). Since starting the band in 1996 (named after Codeine's slow-core classic The White Birch from 1994), they wandered the corridors of melancholia, creating fragile, highly emotional and see-through compositions of sheer beauty. Music for calming down. Luminous reports for total relaxation. Besides The White Birch (TWB), Fløttum was for some years a member of the fine post-rock/kraut-inspired combo Salvatore
(which dissolved in 2008). In 2001 he put out an album as the solo project Portrait of David. During TWB's 'intermission' years, Fløttum has written music for films. Among the titles are acclaimed feature films by Norwegian directors Joachim Trier (Reprise from 2006, and Oslo, 31. august from 2011, as well as his coming Hollywood co-production, Louder Than Bombs to be premiered this spring - just wait for the Cannes Film Festival...) and Ole Giæver (Fjellet, a.k.a. The Mountain, from 2011, and last year's Mot naturen, a.k.a. Out of Nature), as well as the brilliant Swedish director Ruben Östlund's Turist (Force Majeure) from last year. In-between all his film work it seems Fløttum's got plenty of time and loads of inspiration to prepare another masterly and epic album.
The Weight Of Spring takes place in a filmic, cinematic environment or landscape. This is the sound of weightlessness, the sound of tranquillity. Throughout an hour of music, through a cycle of twelve tracks this is sort of a spiritual journey. This is a wintery journey taking us from fall and throughout the winter, to the spring. When the year wakes. When life wakes again. Well, especially for us from the Northern hemisphere. Alternatively, the Nordic territory. Hop on the magic carpet ride of "Lamentation". It is a wonderful song, taking you circling the treetops. Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) has been referred to both after this new album as well as former White Birch releases. The music of The White Birch (at least some of their moods or modes) also make me think of Bergen based combo Ai Phoenix, who returned with a new album last year after a (seven year) long hiatus. The Weight Of Spring for sure puts up some magic and mystical compositions. Like a magical mystery detour. Dare to let TWB take you to places along ways that are different from the usual places and ways you seek. This is a different route, which is not leading you to the regular places, you tend to go to.
There are three duets on the album: Magical artist Susanna Wallumrød guests on "The Hours"; Fløttum's wife, actress Ellen Dorrit Petersen steps in on the heart-warming, shimmering and swirling "Lantern"; while singer/songwriter (and actress) Ingrid Olava pair up with Fløttum for the radiant title track. Other guests on this album are composer and musician Ole-Henrik Moe (the violin, the viola and the singing saw), drummer Pål Hausken and brass-man Morten Barrikmo (both to be found in Susanna Wallumrød's band, Magical Orchestra). Yes, this recording is filled with light and darkness, magic and thrills. All done in a low-toned, low-voiced way. Despite the melancholy moods, these songs for sure are uplifting. There are many highlights on this album, in fact it's almost an one-hour-long high. The songs are spiritually elevating. This is cure for pain. The Weight Of Spring will give you a perfectly comfortable slow pulse and heart beat rate. Ethereal beauty. Ethereal flame? The Weight Of Spring is mellow gold. When the closing instrumental "Spring" enters, sways, circles, spins and glides off spring is here. Now. Right.
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen