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Burzum - Hliðskjálf
Review: Continuing its arc of growth, Burzum accelerates its development to a form of mellow but austerely ancient "ambient soundscape" music that must be understood at an abstract level to appreciate its real beauty. As with the previous album, the Dead Can Dance influence is present, possibly merged with Tangerine Dream (as the Darkthrone sideproject Neptune Towers did) and Kraftwerk, an admitted influence of its creator.
Burzum has evolved from raw black metal to an atmospheric style of classical music that reflects powerful concept and design. While contemporary audiences have come to expect simpering emotion from ambient music of such a non-industrial/noise nature, this foray into making a modern interpretation of early music and all the cultural weight it carried nonetheless manages to create a deepening atmosphere and a sense of gravitas that is missing from most music except metal. It does not sound metal, but it has the spirit that metal and early music share in common: a clear-eyed look at reality and embrace of its violence, chaos, tragedy and also, beauty and triumph.
Underneath the lush skin of melodic layers comprising this music is once again the product of a highly refined musical thinker crafting distinctive works that speak the uniqueness and complexity of a situation or mood. Keyboards sequenced together with minimal percussion play in "lead" rhythm roles, where instead of extensive soloing comes in-depth interaction between multiple instrument voices. Ambient long tempo structures and hypnotic pulsations of rhythm put this album in a dominant background role to your attention span, as if it were a soundtrack or sequence of demonic commands.
Despite stratigraphic construction, this music is ultra-minimalistic: like Bach, many small pieces, recombinant versions of each other, interact to form a complex style and overall architecture. Classical in thematic architecture and concept, Hliðskjálf wears the surface of ambient soundscape while its muscles are raw, intense, nihilistic concepts in music.