Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Mattias Lies (Sweden) – Höstens bleka sjö (Autumn’s pale lake) (sample track/video from album Rösten från det Karelska näset (The voice from the Karelian isthmus)

Slowing things right down tonight with a piece of very artistic work from Mattias Lies. I’ve had to swot up quite a lot to write this piece, it’s as far away as you can get from pop 4/4 standard, so bear with me.

Let’s start at the very beginning was a useful piece of advice from Mary Poppins.  Mattias Lies is a well known Swedish musician who has just released his seventh album, ‘Rösten från det Karelska näset (‘The voice from the Karelian isthmus’).

The project he has been working on is so typically Swedish, by which I mean I’ve come across similar examples before, as he set about interpreting 10 poems by the Finnish-Swede Edith Södergran.

Now I knew I’d come across Edith Södergran before. I thought it might be in connection with the usual suspects like Le Lac Long 814, or one of that duo on his own – Daniel Östersjö – or Daniel with Elin Lyth. Perhaps Resmiranda. All are quite familiar with interpreting poems into songs.

But I was surprised to find it was in a review of Xinombra, an ‘arty experimental metal’ band who wrote songs based on her work a few years ago.

Then I finally nailed it. The big review so to speak concerning Edith was of Anna Kruse who celebrated the life of Edith in June of last year with a song that translates into English as ‘Joy is a Butterfly’ and someone to whom she has written over 60 songs and even has a Spotify playlist just for them.

Clearly Edith has a big following – new interpretations of her work, which amounted to only four slim volumes, including theatrical ones, as are common as new interpretations of Hamlet, and now Anna Kruse has some stiff competition in those stakes with Matthias’ album from which I selected ‘Höstens bleka sjö’ as the sample track, partly because it has a tasteful video to go with it.

As he sets out to interpret her iconic poems, spanning her lifetime, and some of them never having been set to music previously despite all the interest in her, I note that he shares a Swedish-Finnish ancestry with Edith.

Also that this is the first time he has attempted something like this.

What’s more, he felt that Edith was ‘guiding him’ through the project, finding a kinship between them.

Bearing in mind my Swedish is still at the ‘Swedish Chef’ level from The Muppet Show and consequently understanding the lyrics here impossible, what I was looking for in the song and the video was whether Mattias could bridge the gap between the time in which the poem was written (over a century ago –it was the 100th anniversary of her death in 2023, aged just 31) and the present day.

Transposing poetry into song lyrics is demanding at the best of times without the imposition of such a time warp but the vocal flows seamlessly in what takes on the appearance of a parting love letter, made even more beautiful by the selective inclusion of a melancholy flute melody over acoustic guitar and piano.

One gets the distinct impression that Edith would have approved.

There’s a video you can watch on You Tube called ‘Discovering the Visionary Poetry of Edith Södergran: A Journey Through Her Life and Work’.

Someone has commented on it, “Did she have any romantic partners?” I’m pretty sure she did. He’s called Mattias Lies.

Find him on:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.