BardSpec – Hydrogen

Posted: 12 June 2017 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Norse – 23rd June 2017

James Wells

BardSpec is the ambient project / band from Enslaved composer/ guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. It’s certainly quite a departure from the snarling, gnarly but melodic metal he’s associated with. There isn’t a single bar of double-pedal bass drumming, one mangled, downtuned chord struck on a guitar with in excess of six strings.

How this actually translates is a series of compositions which incorporate electroacoustic elements for form a layered, atmospheric sound. Even so, Hydrogen is really not ambient in the strictest sense: the album’s six lengthy tracks are structured, sculpted, organised and arranged so as to be anything but background.

On ‘Bone’, a picked acoustic guitar occupies the foreground while howling electric guitar feedback hangs so far back in the distance as to be barely audible. Against bust bongos and a fleeting bassline, clouds of abstract electronic wing drift. There’s a linearity to the nine-minute piece as the percussion builds and everything layers progressively toward a rich, oceanic expanse of sound.

‘Fire Tongue builds a huge sonic cloud which drifts around a propulsive rhythm and serpentine guitar / synth motifs which intertwine to create a hypnotic, trance-like desert of sound.

‘Gamma’ is perhaps the album’s most truly ambient work: while there is a picked guitar echoing in the background it’s a piece which drifts and twists and actually calls to mind the introductory passage in the debut by The Psychedelic Furs, where the hum and circle of static gradually fade in before the throbbing bass and chiming guitars of ‘India’ kick in.

On the twelve-minute ‘Salt’, the combination of mesmeric beats and echo-soaked guitar create a deep, textured atmosphere.

This is intelligent, articulate music which explores an array of textures and styles to create a something nuanced and detailed and quietly compelling.

2LP-Gatefold-6mm-Spine

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