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Ildjarn - Hardangervidda Part 1
Review: In advancing the point of perception beyond the sublime arising from stunned sensory overload, Ildjarn-Nidhogg traded its wall of blasting sound approach for a traditional electronic/ambient instrumentation, in the process elongating its compositions with detail enhancing each theme in refractions of a central viewpoint, allowing a depth to the whole arising from the familiarity of concepts instead of their novelty. Where most music keeps user attention through a flat hierarchy of unique combinations of notes, the music of Ildjarn-Nidhogg finds familiar patterns which represent those emotions to which each piece refers, and within layers builds layers, creating logical but natural motifs which like thoughts at the horizon of sleep are accepted into consciousness as normal regardless of context. Thus the brain assembles the composition after hearing it, and it becomes alive in memory, a three-dimensional object of a path and its alternates and their variations, all discursive of one idea reflecting one take on a viewpoint endemic to Ildjarn-Nidhogg.
This disc, one of two, tracks the progress of a day in the part of Norwegian wilderness known as Hardangervidda, reaching from sunrise to night with each song adapted to the styles necessary to portray such a time. Early songs begin in ingenuous simplicity and rise in symmetrical recursion, while later pieces drift into silence between languid thematic divergences, spreading obscurity with not insubstantial but inspecific statements of the direction of melody relative to any form of centralizing structure. Like a postmodern movie, perhaps even a Vedic version of a David Lynch film, these songs do not attack linear time but stretch a narrative sequence across time as space, so that the listener wanders between scenes in an activity which have no specific order, but are always variants on the same motif, with motives collected forming a trellis of tangentially relevant metaphors to the dominant figure which defines each song. Hearing this album is like crossing the terrain of Hardanger as the sun slowly climbs the sky, but in each hour being able to visit any minute by going to the place where one was at that time, where a recombination of the same activity is occurring and despite its different shape from its parent, leads back into the same gesticulation of direction that was immanent in its parent. There are some obvious "ambient music typecast riffs," which exist because of their simplicity as devices for the types of mood presented by ambient music as introduction, but they fade quickly and are almost entirely absent in the final stages of this work.
What will alienate most ambient/atmospheric listeners is the lack of keyboard voice variation; the keyboard is not used as an instrument of many voices, but as an instrument in the way a Hammond organ might be: with a distinctive, predictable tone (albeit here: several "standard" voices). Similarly, when drums occur, there is no attempt to fool the audience with the novelty of slight variations in percussive pattern, as most ambient music attempts, nor any distractions caused by production effects. If it has a Achillean disadvantage, it is the hastiness of some parts of this album, as if they were either never rethought or written quickly to fit still-unconceived parts of the songs, but this also contributes a freshness in unresolved tension between the deliberate and cleanly-delineated and the messier, more chaotic segments from which occasional gems of subconscious wisdom emerge. This reviewer would suggest that Ildjarn-Nidhogg entirely discard the concepts of pop music style percussion, or even percussion except accentually, and the concept of "normal length" songs; these musicianss are easily better (and fare more honest and artistic in intent: revealing the transcendent in life and the values that esteem it) than Hollywood's soundtrack masters, and their tendency toward metaphoric structure and mimetic aesthetics means that any music they create in this century will be compared to a soundtrack anyway. It would be a new dimension on their work to see a full-length work, especially if it continues in the excellent vein of concept and diligent, idealistic and forthright creation with which it is rendered incarnate.