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Jordsjø - Nattfiolen CD (album) cover

NATTFIOLEN

Jordsjø

 

Symphonic Prog

4.11 | 276 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nº 542

Jordsjo is a progressive rock band from Norway based in Oslo that was founded in 2014. Jordsjo is a duo featuring Hakon Oftung on vocals, guitars, flute and keyboards, and Kristian Froland on drums and percussion, with some additional musicians. Jordsjo is quite an unusual band. It's one of those bands that fly the flag of the classic traditional prog, the prog that is commonly called symphonic. Their apparent prog influences include Genesis, King Crimson and Porcupine Tree. However, they have also expressed admiration for classic horror films, soundtracks and Scandinavian folk music. Their music is earthy, ethereal, and dramatic. Flutes, piano, Hammond organ, and analogue synths blend in with acoustic and electric guitars, bass and drums providing an immersive experience that will bring joy to fans of the 70's prog, but also to more modern bands like Anglagard and Wobbler who have embraced this classic soundscapes.

The debut album of Jordsjo saw the light of the day in 2015. It connected the symphonic prog to some sort of prog folk. On their next album, "Jordsjo II", they took the folk parts back a little and instead turned up the rock parts. After an experience with the Norwegian synth project Breidablik, "Songs From The Northern Wasteland" released in 2016 that was oriented towards electronic prog, they released their album "Jord" in 2017, a typically Scandinavian retro-prog album with reminiscences of Anglagard and Sinkadus. Their next release was this album "Nattfiolen" released in 2019.

"Nattfiolen" sounds more cohesive and focused compared to its predecessor "Jord" and where there are truly some captivating moments to be discovered. On the top of that, the warm and organic vibe that resonated throughout "Jord" is also very much present on "Nattfiolen", but the latter boasts more refined and memorable compositions. With "Nattfiolen" the Norwegians basically continue exactly there, in "Jord", with the difference they may have withdrawn a little further into the forest. It comes to my mind the amazing album of Jethro Tull "Songs From The Wood", but darker, more atmospheric and clearly very Scandinavian. The rockier passages of "Jord" have been reduced a bit, so that "Nattfiolen" can claim an even more organic character that its predecessor. For Jordsjo, nature exemplifies their stage set. On "Nattfiolen", the association between nature and music is first and foremost apocalyptic and mystical, which to some extent applies to its predecessor. On "Nattfiolen" there's a perfect balance between folk and symphonic music.

The opening "Ouverture" fulfill adequately its role. It's a very short track, an extremely delicate beginning that greets the listener with gentle flute sounds that are carried along on piano swabs. These temptingly invite us to follow them into the forest. "Stifinner" waits for the listener to a warmly welcome with a pompous introduction to go on a journey of discovery. The song then undertakes a real wandering through some different moods and covers not only classic, atmospheric folk but also sometimes mystical, sometimes ominous soundscapes. "Solens Sirkulaere Sang" is a dark ominous piece reminiscent of the early King Crimson's works in its moody almost medieval atmosphere with its fluid woodwinds and a bit jazzy style, a reminiscent at the time of "Larks' Tongues In Aspic", where the native vocals sound very pleasant. "Septemberbal" is a nice successful interlude based on the acoustic guitar with a brief but rewarding classical guitar solo. This kind of interlude is followed by "Mine Templer II" that begins with some mysterious chords where the rhythm section takes care of the progressive momentum with its great fretless bass line. It features a gradual, piano driven buildup to a fluid, emotional guitar solo. This is a straightforward and playful track at the same time. "Til Varen" is the magnum opus of the album. It's a nine minute mini-epic that starts with its strange atmospheric melody played on piano and flute. After an organ driven jam section, we can hear an acoustic verse. It then shifts into a warm, gradually building instrumental section. Gradually, it closes with a chaotic, flute led jam, an impressive final, indeed. "Ulvenatt" is a slower piece, almost a ballad, with eerie, hovering organs and smooth infectious guitar melodies. It's subdued and minimalist in the means, free and dignified, using the same thread for five minutes. This is a wonderful goodbye, pretty different from the other six tracks, in order to calm emotions and prepare us for the inevitable goodbye.

Conclusion: Scandinavian countries have climbed several positions on my list of the best prog releases, consistently. In all of them I noticed excellent compositions, neat instrumentation and analogue sound. Here's the formula for any work that wants to please me. And Jordsjo isn't an exception. Their album "Nattfiolen" caught the attention of the entire progressive community in the world. The climate immediately takes us to the icy landscapes of northern Europe and has a lot of local folk with its mysterious air. It has a wonderful blend of folk and symphonic rock, with an omnipresent Mellotron sound and obvious hints from Anglagard, worth to discover. However, the basis of folk is brought out in a dynamic arranging mechanism and rich variations. It's a work to be tasted and its beauty is fully appreciated, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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