available from https://sturledagsland.bandcamp.com
Treat yourself: Set aside half an hour, lose the phone, sit in a dark room and immerse yourself in this mini-masterpiece of life-forming and life-affirming Nordic music. Or, if you can drive, you could head for the nearest natural landscape at night and play it in full, loud. It’s worth doing.
Live, Sturle Dagsland are the band that take your breath away, defying conventions and redefining your boundaries. A washing machine of melodic shards of sound; screamed, yodelled, whispered and throated over by singer Sturle while brother Sjur sits stage left calmly controlling the chaos into the beauty that they together create. Meet them afterwards and they are the most delightful, humble and lovely human beings.
Studio, where to start? The facts are that there’s eleven songs. It’s their first album. It is self-released and recorded mostly in the brothers’ home town of Stavanger, Norway. And the sounds are amazing: A testament to their incredible breadth of musical artistry that they’ve welded inspiration, absorbed and re-expressed, from many parts of the globe into a crafted, spiritual, pulsating dreamscape of a stand-alone piece of high art.
Veering from mellifluous child-like, elfin-soft vocals to primordial chanting and guttural urges, each track really does take the listener on a journey. There’s strong Sami roots with Japanese elements in here; tantric chanting, hymnal, twisted orchestras on a moving platform of a vast smorgasbord of global instruments such as the cimbalom, kalimba, dilruba, marxophone and quite fittingly for the terrain of this soundscape, the bukkehorn – Billy Goat Horn to those of us not of Norway.
Although each track is a multi-layered woven tapestry of sounds, Sturle Dagsland place the voice into the centrepiece of their craft. There’s an incredible variety of vocal accompaniment which echos rap, pop, grunge and electronica. Mix that up with Norse Paganism and traditional Nordic folk and you’re about half way there. The rest is up to you to decide the genre, if there is one.
So, if you just want to test this deep, dark water then dip into track seven: Hulter Smulter which for all the other-worldliness goings-on, was, according to Sturle, simply inspired by meeting a friendly cat. Which brings us back to this being an album, made by two brothers, in their back yard, just putting everything out on the table for us to enjoy. Try it. Like a feast of food you’ve never seen nor tasted before, there’ll be something you gain from the experience.
Released: 5th February 2021
Mark Wilson @dayofthecacti for Louder Than War