Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Christian Balvig (Denmark) – Where All is (single/track from forthcoming album)

You know, there’s ‘ambient’ electronic music and then there’s ‘ambient’. Like there’s ‘the older man’ that some of the young ladies prefer and then there’s ‘the knackered old shite’, like me.

There’s a lot of such music coming out of Sweden, especially on the Lamour label, and even more from Norway.

It’s always stimulating stuff, whether you’re listening to it in your living room or experiencing it live.

On the other hand you’ve got the top of the range versions, such as Eno’s ‘Music for airports’, which to be honest would probably make me miss my plane because I would have dozed off. No offence intended to Brian but that’s what it does to me. Perhaps that’s what he intended; who knows?

So I was interested enough to investigate this single, ‘Where all is’, out of Denmarkto see what they’re doing up the Skagerrak and down the Kattegat these days in this highly esoteric genre. It is the first one to be released from Danish composer Christian Balvig’s debut solo album, ‘Night Poem’, which will come out on 12th May and which is “an ode to and from the night, a rebellion against constant stimuli”.

That put me on my guard. Rebelling against stimuli could easily be taken too far and to its conclusion which is no stimuli at all. And the single’s title is sort of Eno-ish, isn’t it?

But it works very well. He speaks of “a meticulous hunt for ghost notes, and the almost imperceptible sound of piano keys” and that’s what you get here. It’s sparse in the opening bars where it might be Choir of Young Believers’ ‘Hollow talk’ then an audially subdued acoustic guitar comes in over arpeggio- replete piano and synths and archaic percussion which are almost respectfully competing for your attention.

It’s as if the engineer turned on the recording gear but the musicians were in the studio next door.

The pace does pick up towards the end and the rhythms and melodies get more complex, indeed almost ‘club-like’ in the last few seconds but the track completes just in time, before those dreaded stimuli become too much.

All-in-all it’s a very tasty piece and bodes well for the album. It isn’t quite so impactful the first time, because there’s a lot going on to take in even if it is respectfully muted, but from the second time onwards if ambient acoustic/electronic is your thing you’ll be flying high (sorry again, Brian).

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