Review: Byrdi “Byrjing” [Trollmusic]

Review: Byrdi “Byrjing” [Trollmusic]

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The third full-length album “Byrjing” (translated as “beginning”) of Scandinavian folk band Byrdi was released this March via Trollmusic, known for their collaborations with innovative Nordic musicians. And by pursuing their previous musical ideas, Byrdi this time have managed to reach total calmness and ethereal detachment.

Nordic folk is very serious and pretty active folk branch, so close to the genuine ways of nature, tacitly ruled by Norwegian legends Wardruna. Byrdi follow their steps with a negligent formality, increasingly developing their own individual style. And in a milder and more ethereal manner, while maintaining the monotonous and ascetic minimalism. And melodic lines aren’t the main decoration of “Byrjing”, their thirst for meditative repetitions is truly astonishing, creating the constant tranquility in a ritualistic way.

This record doesn’t emanate the optimistic mood, preferring the darker display of feelings, but rather through the grayish darkness than total blackness, like the misty riverside landscape in a plain daylight (black and white cover art also alludes on it). The songs offer a wide range of diversity, but without dramatic turns or unusual ideas, the common line still leads the album’s spirit. The acoustic passages create a constant background, unobtrusive and sedated, giving more eloquent possibilities for other instruments. The melancholic harp lines (“Geirodd”) romanticize the mysteriousness, and the sounds of pipes and flutes (“Huldre” or “Byrdi”) bestow some joyous playfulness. But the mouth harp emphasizes the occult traits on a track “Solsnu”, the most solid and violent song on “Byrjing”.

The dynamic “Stein på Stein” brightens up the sluggish meditative restraint and disturbs the perfect stillness, which is almost sacrosanct on this folk album; and the track “Byrdi” also hints on some war-like attitude. But the dreaminess lingers here and there with an enchanted artfulness. The primitive rawness is very common line for this kind of genre, but the manner of Byrdi is gentler and more sophisticated comparing to ritualistic and shamanistic brusqueness of pagan worshippers. The musical lines of “Byrjing” are indeed well-considered and delightful, but the vocal duties of Nash Rothanburg and Andreas Paulsen liven up the minimalistic rusticity in such a pertinent way. Their a cappella singing also varies from song to song – offering the belligerent intensity (“Solsnu”), anthem mood (“Byrdi”) or pop music’s echoes (“Geirodd”). And sometimes it feels like all the instruments disappear into the discreet background, and only the harmonious singing prevails.

The creation of “Byrjing” was a real challenge for these Norwegians, so, all their personal struggles are displayed here, making it more candid. And also, with a great respect for nature and traditional roots, Byrdi were able to sustain quite modern musical views. And of course, their urge for individuality is truly noticeable and praiseworthy.

Release date: March 5, 2021

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About the author

I am into metal music from the school times, started from traditional genres, and now exploring the experimental scene. I'm also interested in modern architecture and contemporary art.

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