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Jordsjø - Jordsjø CD (album) cover

JORDSJØ

Jordsjø

 

Symphonic Prog

4.92 | 3 ratings

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Progfan97402
5 stars Like so many bands lurking around Bandcamp, I didn't find out about Jordsjø until sometime later. This Norwegian prog act is lead by multi-instrumentalist Håkon Oftung (who was in Tusmørke and Black Magic). They already released limited edition cassettes that quickly sold out, so I'm left with downloading them; however, this double LP is just what I needed! Music as obsessive retro '70s as this begs to be listened to on vinyl. It compiles material from their first three cassettes, including the part Jordsjø contributed on Songs from the Northern Wasteland (the other half was contributed by electronic act Breidablik). Nothing on their fourth cassette Jord was included, though, so you're stuck with downloading that one (that cassette was sold out too). This simply blew me away! This music is totally up your alley if you enjoy such groups as Änglagård, Wobbler, White Willow and Tusmørke. This is perhaps the most '70s sounding retro-prog album I have ever heard! In fact it's often hard telling this was all recorded between 2015 and '16! Oftung uses Clavia Nord Stage for Hammond organ, Mellotron M4000D, and MiniMoog Voyager, but you'd never know he's playing on modern-day equivalent of modern gear. He also uses some authentic vintage gear too when possible, like the Solina String Ensemble and the Fender Rhodes electric piano, and probably others, but this is what I've seen of his gear online. He gets Kristian Frøland and Tore Flatjord to play drums on some of the songs, which leads me to wonder if he'll consider Mattias Olsson to play sometime in the future, at least just one song (that would make a great combination!). That also got me thinking he should also considering having Lars Fredrik Frøislie drop on by for some dual keyboard action. On "Solina, Min Dronning" he gets none other than Martin Nordrum Kneppen of Wobbler on drums! Each side has its own theme, side one is "The Heavy Side", side two is "The Arctic Side", side three is "The Fantasy Side" and side four is "The Other Side". Side one is more or less, the album's heavier material. "UK Original" starts off mellow, but as it goes on, it sounds like a totally progged version of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, with that heavily fuzzed Jon Lord or Ken Hensley-type of organ. The music frequently breaks into a Wakeman-like synth solo. "Mine Templer 3" has a bit of a medieval feel, sounding a bit like a more symphonic, Nordic version of Jethro Tull. Side two is the "Arctic Side", I guess these songs Oftung & Co. were trying to capture the mood and feel of the far north of Norway, beyond the Arctic circle. I have no idea what's going on in the lyrics as its sung in Norwegian. "Hulderheimen" has that Tusmørke and Wobbler thing going on, I really particularly dig the flute section. "Under Aurora B" gets me thinking of Terje Rypdal, which I don't think is entirely surprising, as both Oftung and Rypdal hail from the same county. It gets me thinking of Jon Christensen's drumming on "Silver Bird is Heading for the Sun". Of course there differences as there are some amblent and electronic parts. Also some of Oftung's guitar playing in this piece is very much in Rypdal's style. "Svarthelleren" is a bit more rocking, with some nice flute parts, and a nice beautiful instrumental break. The word "Svarthelleren" repeats itself quite a bit, but to my American ears, it sounds like he's saying "Smarthammer" or "Salthammer" and I know that's incorrect, as it's all sung in Norwegian. I can't get a proper translation of "Svarthelleren", and what little info I can get is Svarthelleren is a point located at Loppa, in Finnmark, in the far north of Norway (no wonder this song was included as The Arctic Side). "The Fantasy Side" is what Oftung probably felt was the side that felt had a more fantasy element to the music, but again, its lost on me given its sung in Norwegian. "Ogion" starts off rather calm, and there's some Anthony Phillips type of acoustic passages I really dig, then the music picks up steam with some ELP-like organ passages and some Änglagård moves. "Se Balinors Lamper!" starts off a bit spacy, and then it picks up, but then it suddend turns into a dirge with that Nordic/medieval feel in it, the bassoon sounds like a Mellotron M4000D replication, rather than a real one, it really gives this eerie and somber feel to it. I guess "The Other Side" is the side that don't fit any particular mood or theme."Solina, Min Dronning", unsurprisingly features the Solina String Ensemble extensively (as it turns out, Oftung uses a real one, and not an virtual emulation or VST plugin), giving more than a passing resemblance to late '70s German prog bands. I get thinking of Novalis' Sommerabend as it frequently has that similar mood and spirit, except its sung in Norwegian, and that Nordic influence has itself felt. "Hekseskogen" most reminds me of Bo Hansson circa Mellanväsen (Attic Thoughts), especially in the organ and flute department. I wouldn't doubt Håkon Oftung had Bo Hansson in mind because this piece totally captures his style, including the organ playing. This album has it all progheads are sure to enjoy! Frequently complex music, lots of great analog keyboard sounds, lots of wonderful twists and turns, a wonderful atmosphere, and for those who love that Scandinavian prog sound, you get that frequently somber Nordic vibe to the music. Plus some of the songs are surprisingly melodic, I can actually hum some of this, which is something I couldn't say of Änglagård. There's the occasion the group slips into a more electronic mode, the influence of Breidablik, no doubt. For example, the doomy "Fugløykallan" (from The Arctic Side) starts off with some of the most sinister sounding Mellotron I have ever heard before going into more electronic territory sounding like something Breidablik would do. I mispelled this as "Juglonkallen" as the tracklisting (both back cover and on label) was printed in that German Fraktur blackletter font where some of the characters can cause confusion. "F" looks like "J", "Y" looks like "N", and you could barely see the slash through the common Norwegian "Ø". If things go right, Jordsjø is bound to be a hit with progheads everywhere, as this double compilation album only proves. I shouldn't throw five stars just anywhere, I do need to be objective, but I really think this deserves it, and if you missed out on the cassettes (like I did), and you want it on solid format, this is totally essential! For such a retro sounding album, it's only natural to listen to this on vinyl. For the last few days this album hardly left my turntable, this is perhaps the finest prog rock album I've heard since Änglagård blew people's minds away back in the 1990s! Some of the songs, such as "Solina, Min Dronning" sound even more '70s than the real stuff that came out at that time! How is that even possible? You haven't lived until you hear Jordsjø.
Progfan97402 | 5/5 |

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