Initially released in 2014, Yggdrasil is the second release of the stunning Runaljod trilogy from Norwegian heathens, WARDRUNA.
The ongoing Runaljod trilogy, which began with 2009’s Gap Var Ginnunga, is a musical rendition of the twenty-four runes in what is often referred to as the “elder futhark.” Some of the oldest of Nordic instruments such as primitive deer-hide frame drums, kraviklyra, tagelharpe, mouth harp, goat horn and lur are implemented, while poetic metres and lyrics are written in Norwegian, Old Norse and Proto-Norse tongue. Some of the recordings are captured outdoors or under circumstances of significance to each rune while other sources of sound like trees, rocks, water and torches are used. All of these elements are carefully woven into a rich musical landscape and complemented with whispering voices, melodic song and mighty choirs.
With Yggdrasil, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Einar Kvitrafn Selvik has, together with vocalists Kristian Espedal (aka Gaahl) and Lindy-Fay Hella, managed to create a strikingly beautiful and intense continuation of what was started with their first album, but without falling into the trap of merely repeating themselves. Yggdrasil is also graced with guest appearances by renowned Icelandic composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Iceland’s leading rímur singer Steindór Andersen.
Yggdrasil was written and recorded by Kvitrafn from Spring 2010 to Winter 2012 at his own Fimbulljóð studio and various outdoor locations and will be made available for the first time in CD-digibook format via Indie Recordings on February 24th, 2014. The Yggdrasil digibook is the only version where you can find complete lyrics with English translations as well text on the runes.
In related news, Kvitrafn will appear in History Channel’s Vikings series. Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known mythological Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. It portrays Ragnar as a former farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Bjorn, and his wives-the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug. WARDRUNA’s music has appeared widely in the series previously, and will also be found extensively in the series’ forthcoming season. Kvitrafn will appear in the third season, which is scheduled to air on February 19th, 2015.
“I really enjoy being a part of the musical artillery of the series and I was truly honored when production asked me if I was interested in making a small musical appearance in front of the camera as well,” Kvitrafn elaborates. “The production, director and actors was all very welcoming and so it was all in all a great experience for me! Before the first season was premiered,” he continues, “I was contacted by the production team because they wanted to license some songs. They were very pleased with how the music worked out and what it contributed to the show so they got in touch again for season two where they in addition to using WARDRUNA music asked if I would be interested in working together with the series’ award-winning composer, Trevor Morris. So we tried it and we all liked how it worked and we have continued our collaboration onto the score of the third season that premieres next week. It is great fun to be part of this and I’ve learn a lot from it. Even though the series, for several reasons, cannot create everything one-hundred-percent authentic they do have a genuine desire to do as much as they can to create a more nuanced and correct view on the Vikings and they constantly hunt for authentic details to include. It’s no secret that I am a Nordic-history nerd of giant proportions – therefore it is very pleasing when they ask me for such details from time to time.”
“Yggdrasil lives up to its name – that of the giant tree central to Norse mythology – by stretching out into both darkness and light, a musical ying and yang, like branches creeping into sunlight as they grow up out of a shadowy forest. – The Quietus
“…something quite remarkable, and nothing quite like you’ve heard before.”