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Jordsjø - Nattfiolen CD (album) cover



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4 stars Surely their best. So, one can ask me, why four stars only? Maybe the reviewer is a 'cloth-eared nincompoop' ((c) M. Oldfield, 1990)? Maybe, maybe. But the reason is different. Apart from the seven tracks stuffing the album, there's an additional 14-minute epic suite known as 'Nattfiolen Demo', not included in the album, published separately and currently available from Bandcamp with the following note from the artists: 'A demo outtake from the recording sessions for the album "Nattfiolen". Although this is the title track, it will not be included on the album for different reasons. Instead, it's released here as a christmas gift for our fans around the world. Happy holidays!' Thanks guys. The holidays were really fine, and everyone has a right to follow any reasons ad libitum. But just listen to the music in the following sequence: Ouverture, 'Nattfiolen Demo', Stifinner, Solens Sirkulaere Sang etc, according to the further track list. Done? OK what about your impressions? What do you hear? Right! - you hear an album which is much better than what was released. Without 'Nattfiolen Demo', the album Nattfiolen is just another excellent prog album. With 'Nattfiolen Demo', it would be a masterpiece of the same caliber as A Drop Of Light by All Traps On Earth. And 'Nattfiolen Demo' would be the cornerstone of the album, the most complex, intriguing, innovative, inventive and - on the other hand - heartfelt track. Maybe only Mine Templer II and Til Vaaren could compare to it. Yes if 'Nattfiolen Demo' is included, side one of the vinyl version would exceed 30 minutes, and this could cause a problem. Re-sequencing is not a solution because it would break the harmonious logic of the album. (Though Tormod of Pancromatic and his pressing plant staff know how to do so-called micro-recordings with no sound quality loss, just remember the vinyl versions of Kerrs Pink - Tidings, or Thule - Liquid, or White Willow - Terminal Twilight...) But if we forget about possible technical issues and discuss the music only, the rejection of 'Nattfiolen Demo' was an undoubted tactical mistake.
Report this review (#2216320)
Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars The only disappointing thing I can say about this album is the title track being left off, thankfully you can download it over at Bandcamp, but that piece is so amazing it shouldn't have been left off the album, it would have fit fine on the CD, but since the vinyl LP was also in mind, Håkon Oftung had to make the decision to leave it off and not have to disappoint buyers in either the CD or LP camp.

I am so pleased that I didn't have to wait so long for a Jordsjø release, not like Wobbler where you had to wait six years between releases (Rites at Down, From Silence to Somewhere). Which I love about Jordsjø since discovering them in September 2017 is that organic approach to prog, with a frequent pastoral approach that I really dig, often rooted in Nordic folk, giving it that Scandinavian feel that I so enjoy from prog from that area of the world. I also love how they completely avoid that sterile digital approach that plagues way too much prog these days (neo prog obviously being the most guilty). As usual Oftung gets help from Kristian Frøland on drums and various guests as needed. "Ouveture" is a simple piano and flute intro, but "Stifinner" is the first real song on the album. Starts off with this loud Mellotron passage, but then calms down with acoustic guitar, with vocals in Norwegian (in fact all the vocals are in Norwegian). I really like that organ and flute passage later on. "Solens Sirkulære Sang" is a lengthier piece demonstrating the band's more ambitious side, but Håkon Oftung also knows his limits, as Jordsjø as never been about playing a million notes per second (too much prog since the 1990s has been like that, and even before then ELP was frequently accused of that as well), like Camel, Jordsjø is more focused on the emotional part, unlike Camel, they give it that Nordic touch. "Septemberbål" is an unaccompanied acoustic guitar piece, much like a Nordic version of "Mood For a Day", but unlike that famous piece, it's more influenced by Nordic folk than classical guitar like what you get from Steve Howe. "Mine Templer II", a sequel of "Mine Templer I" (from 2016's Jordsjø II, later appearing on the self-entitled double album compilation). Instead of rehashing the original, it's completely brand new song and it's truly a stunning piece. I only imagine the lyrics having a same them that connects the two (but lost on me not knowing Norwegian) Really dig that flute intro, sounds so '70s you think it was recorded in the '70 (funny how that flute intro reminded me of that incidental music I heard on the original 1970s Land of the Lost TV series as I frequently heard similar sounding flute, although in the case of Håkon Oftung, it's likely just a coincidence as he was clearly not alive in the '70s, and lives in Norway). Then the song starts with a wonderful pastoral approach, nice vocals in Norwegian, and that nice use of piano to go with it, but I love how things change, with an intense organ passage, then the vocal theme reappears, this time, without vocals, but jazzy guitar parts instead, then a wonderful theme to close this piece. "Til Våren" is a really ingenious piece. There's the vocal section, and then when the flute section kicks in, it took me several listens to discover the flute theme is the same as the vocal section. Jordsjø sure has a way with creating a theme, and changing it drastically until it dawns on you it's a different take on that theme. Regardless this is truly one of the album's highlights. "Ulvenatt" is an atmospheric number that's very much in Pink Floyd territory, also Camel and even Sebastian Hardie. Håkon Oftung even does that David Gilmour style of guitar playing (also a bit in the style of Andy Latimer and Mario Millo). It ends with Geir Opdal giving some brief sound effects off his Buchla Music Easel.

And just in case you don't know Jordsjø, their music is very highly recommended if you enjoy bands like Wobbler, Änglagård, White Willow, Sinkadus, Tusmørke, and Landberk.

As mentioned, the omission of the title track is the album's only disappointment, had this been made in, say 2005, it would have been likely included as it would have been likely only issued on CD because 2005 would have been before the vinyl resurgence. If it was included it certainly would have been a highlight, but as it stands, the album, even without the title track, still blows me away. It's certainly one of the finest releases of 2019 so far.

Report this review (#2217370)
Posted Saturday, June 1, 2019 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A band I've been following since their first Jord releases. I was highly critical of their initial releases due to their lack of maturity both as songwriters, instrumentalists, and cohesive band mates. This album displays how far they have come--as well as how hard they've worked. I'm so glad they took criticism well and continued to persevere cuz it's really paid off.

1. "Ouverture" (1:19) flute-driven acoustic instrumental (4/5)

2. "Stifinner" (7:52) opens with proggy bombast but the band is not rhythmically tight! Acoustic guitar sets tone for next section. Flutes, bass, drums, and organ join in before vocals and fuzzy electric guitars can enter. Lyrics, sung in Swedish, are adequate with a nice melody. There's a little 60s psychedelia in here, as well--in both sound and tension. The instrumental section in the third and fourth minutes has some amazing chord progressions with very nice soli over the top. Things slow down while a swirling organ arpeggio keeps things moving as flutes, fuzz guitar, bass, and percussive rhythm guitar add their flourishes and riffs. This morphs into a more whole-band section with some cohering power chords, but then acoustic guitars, bass and flute take over in a very beautiful, delicate section. The final minute has drums, spoken word, and a kind of GENESIS Trespass/Nursery Cryme ending. Nicely crafted; these guys have really matured. (13.5/15)

3. "Solens Sirkulære Sang" (7:39) opens feeling very much as if it could come from GENESIS' album Trespass but then moves into KING CRIMSON "Moonchild" territory. Despite the delicate instruments used by this band, they do a very convincing job of portending a deep and heavy mood. (12.75/15)

4. "Septemberbål" (1:49) a folk instrumental on some kind of lute-like instrument with some sounds and stylings that feel as though they came from the Late Mediæval or Renaissance worlds. (5/5)

5. "Mine Templer II" (6:29) flute over jazz guitar accompaniment is soon joined by piano, double bass, organ, and, later, drums. Suddenly at the 0:50 mark a fuzz guitar chord introduces an ominously heavier section--one that feels quite VDGG or DISCIPLINE-like. Piano trills, Stephen Stills-like guitar flourishes, and Hugh Banton-like organ play with multi-voice vocals. The fourth minute ends with a thicker whole-band theme before lapsing back into the ominous main theme. All instruments seem to take a turn offering their tasteful soli until it finally fades with Stills-guitar and Hammond. (14/15)

6. "Til Våren" (9:02) some CAMEL, YES, and GENESIS sounds and styles are melded into this one. When the music quiets down to allow for the singing to start it feels very much like WOBBLER. The music flows in the common A-B-A-C-A-B format with slight and over variations within each repetition of a section. The harmonized vocal sections happen to be my favorite parts of this one (which are, unfortunately, the "B" sections). (17/20)

7. "Ulvenatt" (5:45) feels like a smooth jazz remake of a pop ballad: it's pretty and melodic and bluesy but not the prog I gravitate to (more like CAMEL or some of FOCUS' old ballads). (8.25/10)

Total time 39:55

Nicely crafted music--intricately constructed songs all. These guys have really matured.

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of intricately composed and performed prog music.

Report this review (#2232690)
Posted Saturday, June 22, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Tons of Trons!"

In the early Nineties a new wave of Skandinavian prog started to blossom, speerheaded by Anekdoten, Anglagard and Landberk, with in its slipstream bands from Sinkadus to White Willow. I had to think about that while listening to this new album from Norwegian formation Jordsjo, entitled Nattviolen. It is my first musical experience with Jordsjo but from the very first moment I felt familiar with the music, because it is typical Nineties Skandinavian prog rock, and I am a huge fan of early Anekdoten, Landberk and Anglagard.

The 3 longer tracks (between 6 and 10 minutes) alternate between dreamy with twanging acoustic guitars and flute to slow rhythms and bombastic eurptions, topped with wonderful vintage keyboards, like the Hammond, but especially the unsurpassed Mellotron (brass, violin and choir section). This is a bonus on this album, like the very pleasant native vocals. The 4 short tracks are instrumentals, from the very short Ouverture (tender flute and piano) to Septemberb'l (beautiful acoustic guitar play, evoking Dutch Flairck).

My highlights.

Solens Sirkul're Sang (7.39) : First a mellow atmosphere featuring dreamy flute, electric guitar and Hammond (Landberk comes to my mind). The native vocals really sound very pleasant. Now the mood shifts between dreamy and more dynamic and lush, with a spacey synthesizer solo, and the distinctive Mellotron and Hammond sound. Halfway a break with flute and propulsive guitar riffs. Then again between dreamy and more more bombastic, embellished with flute, Hammond and Mellotron, strongly evoking Anglagard. Finally a compelling build-up to a sumptuous grand finale featuring a majestic Mellotron choir sound, blended with Hammond and repetetive electric guitar leads, wow!

Mine Templer II (6.29) : It starts with a slow rhythm that contains delicate work on the Hammond and piano, along warm vocals. Gradually it becomes more dynamic, the flute joins, then Hammond and Mellotron, again with strong hints from Anglagard. Halfway dreamy with fragile electric guitar, Hammond and piano. Then an accellaration with sparkling piano and flute, topped with dynamic drums. In the final part a subtle jazzy electric guitar solo, with piano, and an exciting Hammond sound (tremolo and churchy), blended with again subtle work on the electric guitar.

Ulvenatt (5.45) : The final, instrumental composition is a wonderful goodbey from the band, pretty different from the other 6 tracks. In the first part a slow rhythm with sensitive electric guitar, soaring Hammond and delicate Mellotron drops. In the second part a strong build to a very compelling atmosphere with an intense electric guitar solo (in the vein of mellow Focus and Camel), including subtle bending and howling runs, blended with lush Hammond organ, goose bumps!

Jordsjo makes wonderful and melodic prog folk featuring that compelling Skandinavian touch, often embellished with the majestic Mellotron. Highly recommended!

This review was recently publihed on the Dutch progrock website Background Magazine, in a slightly different version.

Report this review (#2233548)
Posted Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Color me impressed! Mellow mellotrons serenade golden filigreed flute's opposite alpine meadows. Exploding crescendos blossom heads of wolfsbane, woundwort, and purple vetch. Bluebells sway, nod approval at mountain meadow winds. Musical equivalent of a Swedish massage. Haunted Norwegian woody guitar chords set the mood for a day. Watercolor madness and magic mushrooms command wild strawberries. Old men (Viking woodcuts) white beards making merry. Medieval manor- milk maidens quaff mead in straw lofts spread out upon bear hides, sharing butter, cheese, candles, dried fish, salted meats. Trolltunga erection of rock in mud, a fireplace melody chars the grey matter, atop ivory dull-white whale vertebra...tingling, perfuming breathtaking, sonic organic masterpiece!
Report this review (#2234150)
Posted Sunday, June 30, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Jordsjø are based around Håkon Oftung (vocals, guitar, flute, Hammond M100, Mellotron, Clavinet D6, ARP Pro) and Kristian Frøland (drums, triangle, percussion) with some additional guests, and this is their fifth album in just four years so they are incredibly prolific for this style of music. This is an album out of time, as the guys refuse to sit within one particular genre of progressive rock and instead move throughout the scene, bringing it together in something which feels quite lightweight at times and massively complex at others. Just by looking at how plays what on the album, I expect from will discount Frøland as "just" the drummer and that this is based all around Oftung, but while that is obviously true in some respects, here is a musician who I would expect to be as happy playing jazz as he is prog, as he is way more over the kit than many would expect.

But given that virtually everything else is performed by Oftung (although a special mention should be made of Christian Meaas Svendsen ? he may only play his double bass on the one song, "Mine Templer II", but it has quite an impact), it is his vision which carries it through. It is hard for the listener to pick his main instrument, as at times it appears to be piano, at others keyboards, while his guitar and bass playing is superb and his flute sublime. It is unusual to find a musician who appears so content on woodwind, stringed instruments and keyboards, and don't forget he also provides vocals. Vocals are in Norwegian, which I am really happy about as it adds an additional element to a non-native speaker such as myself.

It isn't unusual for there to be sections where there is very little bottom end to the arrangements, no bass and very little foundation, which moves the music in a quite different direction. Even though none of the songs are particularly lengthy (just one more than nine minutes in length, and the album itself is less than forty), there is always room for the music to shift and change considerably throughout. Jordsjø are a new name for me, even though they have been around for a while, and here is yet another I will be adding to my watchlist as this is a very strong album indeed which is highly recommended to any old school progheads.

Report this review (#2271141)
Posted Friday, October 18, 2019 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Norwegian band JORDSJO was established sometime around 2014, and following a couple of self-released albums the band was picked up by Norwegian label Karisma Records who released their official debut album "Jord" in 2017. Later on their label compiled the band's earlier material into the compilation album "Jordsjo", and now in 2019 Jordsjo the band have returned with their second album "Nattfiolen". Staying put with Karisma Records as their label of choice.

For those who know and love their vintage era symphonic progressive rock, Jordsjo is a band they need to note down on their list of bands to explore. With references like Bo Hansson, early Eloy, possibly Camel and probably quite a few more candidates, their Earthen, mystical symphonic progressive rock is a delightful trip into the lesser explored sounds of the early 1970's, and one I imagine will be found desirable by just about anyone that finds such a description to be interesting.

Report this review (#2285044)
Posted Monday, December 2, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Take the most mystical moments of Camel's 'Mirage' album, add some of that artistic/authentic PFM songwriting, a bit of Robert Fripp's clean jazz-guitar tone, some haunting flutes in the minor-6 vibe, and finally some moody nordic folk singing and you'll know what to expact from this release of the Norwegian group Jordsjo. To my knowlegde this is the most imaginative and honest sounding retro-prog effort ever made. It captures that moments of seventies prog where the atmospheric power and instrumental story telling was at its most potent. The amount of musical ideas offered on this fourty minute record is quite high, yet the band keeps their medium long compositions meaningful and descriptive of distinct atmospheres. The very skilled musicians of Jordsjo have an amazing interplay - the way vocals, flutes, jazz-guitar (love that tone!) and organ/mellotron change lead feels almost like a dance. Moreover, the band has an amazing timing for when to introduce an new theme. A final compliment for the mix on this record. 'Nattfiolen' has THAT sound. That warm, mysterious, lively and almost unhumanly perfect sound. The gatefold sleeve of the vinyl edition is beatifully designed and adds to the listening experience.

In my opinion this album should not only be consideres a top 3 record of 2019 (with 'Resistance' and 'Amazonia'), but also among the best retro-prog efforts of the 21th century. Much more lively and grasping than - for instance - Anglagard or Wobbler.

Report this review (#2308003)
Posted Sunday, January 19, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Those who adore Scandinavian symphonic folk prog, and who have always been put off by the dark and adventurous side of the music of Anglagard and the early Wobblers, will be delighted to discover this album.

With "Nattfiolen" the Norwegian duo Jordsjø seems to have found their way and finally offers a matured and less eclectic style than on their previous albums. This duo is moreover more of a solo project where the leader sings and plays various instruments accompanied by a drummer / percussionist. Håkon Oftung is an accomplished musician, equal in talent on keyboards, guitars and flute. Hence a perfect balance in the instrumentation of the pieces. The compositions are pastoral, imbued with Scandinavian folk, often close to Anglagard (like at 3:30 on the track "Stifinner") or the first Wobblers, without, I repeat, the complicated and adventurous side of these. The melodies all in finesse, the delicate arpeggios and the pure sound of the electric guitar à la Latimer, bring to mind the Camel of "Snow Goose", or the German band Rousseau (listen to "Le Grand Rêveur", or "Entrée" on Flower in Asphalt). Finally, singing in Norwegian reinforces the romantic and sensitive atmosphere of the music.

A masterpiece of the kind that deserves its five stars without hesitation. Keep it up guys, everything is perfect !

Report this review (#2440002)
Posted Friday, August 21, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jordsjø released their alum Nattfiolen in 2019 and it delivers quite dreamy rock sounds, where delicate acoustic flute and guitar playing is just as important as bombastic keys and electrified guitars.

This piece in all of it's glory brings 1970s synth music, traditional folk and jazz. In terms of content, they are inspired by Norwegian nature and fantasy novels of all kinds.

Symphonic and acoustic passages on "Nattfiolen", on the one hand balance and alternate, but also complement each other, enriched with many acoustic instruments - especially the flute.

The compositions are arranged in many layers, sometimes with enormous complexity, they remain excellently audible and accessible.They blend classic prog and folk elegantly and masterfully and are definitely one of the best in terms of combining these two genres.

This album represents well thought-out and smoothly flowing songwriting, which does not allow itself to drop out. It allows you to wander into mystical worlds filled with feelings of calm and sends you on an unforgettable adventure to which you will gladly return

Report this review (#2509223)
Posted Friday, February 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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