Prog Folk • Norway

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Tirill biography
Tirill Mohn played violin and classical guitar on Norwegian prog giant WHITE WILLOW's much acclaimed debut album Ignis Fatuus. Her own style is not radically different, with the added benefit of a lovely singing voice, and has been well described as Norwegian feminine gothic folk with progressive elements.

TIRILL released her first album on Michael Piper's The Wild Places label specializing the somber and beautiful Scandinavian progressive rock. It was well acclaimed and she began working on a second album, with a goal of putting powems by W.B. Yeats to music. When Piper died in 2008, Tirill decided to form her own label Fairymusic. In 2011 she re-released her first album with the new name "Tales from Tranquil August Gardens" including 3 bonus tracks, and followed with the aforementioned Yeats project entitled "Nine and Fifty Swans".

With a blend of folk, pop, classical, and medieval elements in her repertoire, TIRILL should appeal to lovers of WHITE WILLOW, LOREENA MCKENNITT, NICK DRAKE, HEATHER FINDLAY, LINDA PERHACS, and even MADDY PRIOR's more ambitious solo works.

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TIRILL discography

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TIRILL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
A Dance with the Shadows
4.09 | 4 ratings
Nine and Fifty Swans
4.57 | 18 ratings
Um Himinjodur

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TIRILL Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Um Himinjodur by TIRILL album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.57 | 18 ratings

Um Himinjodur
Tirill Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars What a special treat to receive this album right near the end of what has already been an outstanding year of progressive releases across a number of genres. 2013 has seen a burst of creativity from Norwegian prog-folk artist Tirill Mohn (she also has a new album with her band Autumn Whispers out now as well), and `Um Himinjodur' (roughly translated as `On the rim of the sky') is the sound of an artist taking risks, moving her compositions into more challenging and less obvious directions, crafting deeply personal tales, as well as producing a sonically daring and adventurous musical statement. This ambitious near-concept album came about by the artist pondering being placed on a re-created Earth, with the knowledge of what life is like in the world we currently live in. She ponders what would be put into this new word, what would be of value, what would be discarded, and it's up to the listener to make up their own answers while considering hers.

Tirill's lyrical approach to `Um Himinjodur' shows how important her previous album, `Nine and Fifty Swans' was, where she added her own musical interpretation and soundtrack to the words of poet W.B Yeats. Here, she has taken her own words in a similarly surreal, vivid and darkly romantic direction, each one standing as a complete beautiful gothic lullaby to ponder and consider. It's up to the listener to draw their own interpretation, and to hear the sonic artistry she wraps her poems in is truly striking. Much of the album again is performed on sparse restrained acoustic guitar, violin and flute, but it's given a hallucinogenic dreamy wash of endless Mellotron and a little Hammond organ that brings a warm vintage and lovingly out-of-time quality.

Despite the demanding concept many of the pieces hang on, there's numerous moments scattered throughout that still shows the artist refining and perfecting her unique take on the prog-folk style from her previous two albums. Serious and heartfelt opener `Voluspa' sees Tirill and her male vocal partner's voices take on an impossibly beautiful floating quality that lifts the stark melody to the skies. Even if you don't understand the Norwegian lyrics on this one, just drift away to the soothing and embracing qualities of the two voices intertwining. The words of `Chariot' are confronting, even if they are leaving her lips with the sweetest of voices. The heart-breaking `Fagrar enn Sol' is Tirill at her reflective best with some of the most exquisite and complex multi- layered vocals to appear on her albums yet. The pleading `Muzzled' is delivered perfectly with pained longing and weary defeat, the ghostly electric piano and drowsy bending guitar notes reinforcing the isolation and loneliness of the glum piece.

`The Poet' is another lovely duet over flute, acoustic guitar and violin, with metronome-like percussion and a dreamy blur of stop-start Mellotron pulses before a tasteful shimmering Hammond run in the finale. The lyrically complex nine minute `In Their Eyes' is book-ended with a beautiful weeping violin melody and some very somber troubling vocals with occasional moments of hope. The unpredictable uptempo instrumental break in the middle features some scratchy ominous duel Mellotron passages, a perfectly restrained electric guitar solo and a scorching Hammond explosion straight from the warm analogue Seventies. You can tell how special and important this piece is to the artist, and I'm going to enjoy trying to decipher the words.

Special mention must go to a few particular favourites of mine. The sadly romantic closer `Quiet Night' is truly the soundtrack of a lonely light alone, quietly pining and contemplative. It's pretty much a definitive Tirill song, one of the most deceptively simple pieces on the album, full of stirring medieval charm, and it brings me to tears every time.

But perhaps the absolute centerpiece of the album, and certainly one of most exciting and daring pieces the artist has ever attempted, `The Serpent' sees Tirill becoming one with the nature she so cherishes.

"I am as old as the sea, timeless, I drift while the centuries creep, for I am the daughter of legend and water, the child ancient and wild"

Her voice, as if calling from beyond time and space itself, is spectral and ethereal. There is a deeply haunting ambience to the piece, a dreamy new-age/psychedelic collage of running water, incantations, droning voices and hypnotic percussive instrumentation. Anyone who would possibly dismiss the artist as a simplistic acoustic folk singer needs to hear this, and she has never sounded so confident, experimental and truly freed.

I originally interpreted `Moira' to be deeply romantic yet also leaving hints of uncomfortable obsession and resentment. In one instance, the subject warmly offers "I will be your friend when you need me, I am as near as the wind in your hair, as soft as the sand". Compare it to the darkness hinted at with "I am like shadows, I'll keep your footprints, 'cause I am the path under your feet." And "Longing for your longing" is positively aching with lust. But it turns out the artist intended the piece to be more complex and surreal, `Moira' being the Greek word for destiny, and the changing nature of it!

But that's the beauty of Tirill's musical world. Her songs are frequently cryptic and surreal, yet it's possible for the listener to appreciate them in a more directly human and personal level, to make their own special interpretation, a sure sign of timeless appeal. Her music is full of stream-of- consciousness mystery, yet balanced with warmth and deeply human emotion, and it truly stays with you, wraps around your heart and mind refusing to let go. This work also reminds us that it's always the less immediate albums that are the most satisfying, the ones that ask for endless listens over an extended period of time to properly reward the listener with something special. `Um Himinjodur' is truly to be treasured, and the defining artistic statement from this wonderful song-writer yet.

Five stars.


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 Nine and Fifty Swans by TIRILL album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.09 | 4 ratings

Nine and Fifty Swans
Tirill Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Arriving 8 years after her debut, Tirill Mohn's follow-up to her charming debut `A Dance with the Shadows' (recently re-released as `Tales from Tranquil August Gardens') sees the artist combine her own unique take on prog-folk with the words of poet W.B Yeats. While it's still recognizably the Tirill that listeners will know from the first album, `Nine and Fifty Swans' sees the Norwegian artist abandon the more modern elements present on that debut and strip things down to their bare essentials. It creates a work that is truly timeless, housed in an elegant cover, with Tirill's voice and delicate acoustic instrumentation naked and laid bare, soaring high on those most simple of qualities.

The majority of the pieces resemble lovely and somber gothic lullabies, delicately performed on acoustic guitar, violin, flute and sparse percussion, with the singer often accompanied by a male vocalist to bring a darkly romantic sound. The progressive qualities emerge in the form of restrained instrumental passages throughout many of the pieces. Lines such as "I grew to be out of fashion, like an old song" sum up the singer perfectly, an old reflective soul held within a young body. The extra years since her solo debut has given her voice an added maturity, now full of longing and wistful regret, and it's very easy to see why the artist relates so personally to the poet's words.

Tracks like `The Cap and Bells' offer sweet storytelling drama, `To A Child Dancing In The Wind' is joyful and ominous, `Before The World Was Made' confronting. It's interesting that she gives the likely bitter and resentful tone of `The Song of the Old Mother' a surprisingly warm interpretation, perhaps seeing empathy in it's subject. `The Fisherman/Carolan's Ramble to Cashel' is daring and ambitious, with spoken word passages backed by subtle acoustic accompaniment, rising percussion adding a sense of urgency and drama. `The Song of Wandering Aengus' is a tale of obsessive attraction, with a bittersweet, even cold ending, though still offering glimpses of hope and immortal love. `The Wild Swans at Coole' is glorious and heart-warming, supported by the most placid washes of Mellotron.

Some personal favorites to mention...`Oh Do Not Love Too Long' is pretty much the perfect Tirill track. Droning immersive acoustic ambience, stirring cello and her sweet yet melancholic voice over sensual words.

But `He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' is especially touching to me - vividly descriptive, exquisitely romantic and painfully confronting, and I love the twist of the final line - "Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths, Of night and light and the half light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." This is delivered with perfect fragility and haunting sadness by the singer.

Tirill's love for the poet's words are so evident throughout the entire disc, and her musical approach to them is very lovingly and carefully crafted, never strained and overworked, that the marriage of the two artists is truly sublime. Lovers of intelligent, thoughtful and passionate music for quiet contemplation will simply adore this.

Four stars.


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 A Dance with the Shadows by TIRILL album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 2 ratings

A Dance with the Shadows
Tirill Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars The first solo album from ex-White Willow member multi-instrumentalist Tirill Mohn, `A Dance With The Shadows' is a lush folk/prog album that bridges traditional and modern influences with contrasting light/dark moods, intelligent progressive musicianship and lyrical intimacy. I love the cleverness of the title, the `dance' flirts with upbeat and positive playfulness, while the `shadows' brings a more somber and ponderous quality. Tirill's voice itself is a mix of hushed whispers, pleading reflection and wistful longing, full of girlish feminine charm and unique commanding personality.

Comprised of entirely original material taken from a five year period, Tirill's words read like a snapshot of various points in her life, of a particular emotion, frame of mind or feeling that she relates to the listener in the beautifully haunting work that is frequently somber, quietly reflective and deeply moving. Although written over a long time frame, the album never sounds fragmented or like a mere compilation thrown together. She also brought in a string of great musicians to piece together her magical work, and they play with subtlety and taste. The album maintains a particular mood and cohesiveness that creates a great sense of flow, and it sits nicely alongside White Willow's `Ignis Faatus', making it the perfect companion piece to that stunning album. But Tirill successfully forms her own unique identity throughout this one, and it's a thoughtful, bruised and deeply human work.

Opener `Nights Are Colder' has a somber atmosphere with drifting hazy electronics and other- wordly treated vocals from Tirill, her beckoning voice full of sensual longing. This tracks sets the tone for much of the album, and It's a hugely dramatic and confident opener. Not the happiest of tunes, but very striking and immersive. Male vocals contrast her voice in a few spots to great effect too.

The sad and lyrically honest `Don't Dare To Love Me' has mournful flute with just a hint of danger, weaving around a swirling atmosphere of acoustic guitar, gentle percussion and eerie synths. I have a feeling this story didn't have a happy ending, and it brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it.

`Winter Roses' is more upbeat with a pleasing repeated chorus, making superb use of her multi- tracked voice to bring a soothing and cooing sound to the piece. Listen to how well the sparse and slowly unwinding electric guitar solo falls in alongside Tirill's quietly effective violin. Slightly more uplifting tracks like this help balance the album out so it's not always so glum.

The medieval flavoured `June's Flowers' has a dramatic classical guitar theme, with stirring cello and flute. Despite a rather sweet opening melody, the piece turns quite negative and cold throughout many moments. This track reminds me a little of Loreena Mckennett, though not as over-thought or overproduced. The simplicity and restraint of this one is it's greatest strength.

Lyrics like `Dressed In Beauty's "I gaze at the trees' reflections in the water, my heart untroubled and free, but awondering..." perfectly encapsulates the entire album for me. It's a dreamy gothic piece that utilizes Tirill's musical guests to great effect with a captivating mix of violin, keyboards, bass, nylon string and electric guitar to create a lot of light and shade. Especially listen for the deeply psychedelic and droning middle section with the mix of her multi-tracked choir vocals and swirling instrumentation! Very impressive track that really keeps you on edge due to the abrupt and tense direction changes.

The seriously unnerving synth dirge `Heavy Heaves' has a despondent and resigned Tirill whispering over a backdrop of dark keyboard tones, ghostly flute and taunting chanted voices backed to a thunderstorm. Very draining, yet also very effective and striking, it sounds like nothing else on the album, and even hints at a direction she might like to revisit on a future work?

Then `Vendela' hits you right in the face - a heavy and obsessive gothic fairytale, that opens with very harsh metallic percussion and musical malevolence. Vocally Tirill takes a back seat on this one, handing the male and female leads to future White Willow lady Sylvia Erichsen and Odd Hakon Solbakken. But the musical arrangement is very dramatic and rich, with dark jazzy moments, brooding melodrama and a lurking malaise. It reminds me of a mix of gloomy trip- hoppers Portishead and Swedish misery-mongers Paatos' debut album` Timeloss', it's also the longest track on the album, and the one that sounds the most like her previous band White Willow.

`Golds Of Morning' sounds quite like the first track, but this time a lush orchestral arrangement with some beautifully poetic light/dark contrasting lyrics full of rich detail and a majestic classical folk- styled flute finale. Yet another wondrous piece.

Accordion and clarinet carry `It Was Blue', a simple but delicate acoustic story with wistful longing and deeply romantic lyrics. Just beautiful. The instrumentation is carefully played, but I could easily imagine Tirill performing this one just as well on her acoustic guitar alone.

`Ruby' is another historical Loreena Mckennitt styled number, with violin and clarinet giving the piece a very serious and almost morbid sound. The intricate and richly dramatic words sound like an old poem brought to life, although this one is much harder to interpret. Just another reason to give the album more time and attention to unlock it's treasures.

The album closes on the acoustic lullaby `When You Sleep' with warm and occasional vocal playfulness from Tirill. It's strangely soothing and comforting while still retaining the album's gentle melancholy due to more lulling accordion and the down-tempo melody. It's a very restrained arrangement, and you really focus on Tirill's voice and purring words in this one. It's the perfect way to wrap the album without leaving the listener withdrawn and unhappy from the gloomier and heavier pieces that make up parts of the rest of the album.

The album has now been given a new reissue on both CD and vinyl, renamed `Tales From The Tranquil August Gardens' and given the addition of some bonus tracks. It was originally released on the late Michael Piper's label `The Wild Places', which is the version I own. Michael was a wonderful progressive music vendor many of us remember fondly, and I feel there's no greater tribute than owning this sublime album.

From the mysterious front cover image of Tirill, to the semi-erotic and free-spirited photographs of her inside, to the lovingly reproduced lyrics in the CD sleeve, `A Dance With The Shadows' is a timeless folk work of maturity and sophistication, rich with exquisite instrumental playing, subtle arrangements and wonderfully charming female vocals from a contemplative and unique artist.

Like the different seasons that particular pieces were written in that Tirill lists in the album sleeve, `A Dance With The Shadows' offers a great variety of moods and emotions for any occasion, and it's beauty and fragile compositions will ensure an album you'll treasure forever.

Four and a half stars.


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