The second album by the Norwegian Fedrespor ‘Fra en Vugge i Fjellet’ (translated as ‘from a cradle in the mountain’ is an impressive collection of spiritual and emotionally-led folk songs that are equally both ethereal and deep-rooted to the earth. It is available on the well-loved Nordvis label who boast some of the finest Nordic neofolk acts to date.
Fedrespor, a solo project by Varg Torsten Saastad, branches away from the darkness of the first album ‘Tid’ which was an elegiac commemoration to his lost brother who passed away. The prevailing theme to the album as a whole seems to be the offering of hope out of the depths of sorrow where shards of light and life pierce the gloom to and create formations or visions of what can be if we choose.
Darkness lies at the core of these songs – a deeply brooding underdrone forcefully rooting us to the earth and to the memories of yesterday while we seek to grow towards the light with some form of hope. A hybrid of traditional Nordic acoustic instruments such as the horn, lyre and harp weave around guitar and hand drum. Varg’s vocals are impassioned and raw, almost bordering on defiance as he weaves his galdr to release himself from the miseries of material existence.
The album begins with ‘Dom’ (our doom or judgement) which is a feverish and disconcerting piece full of echoing cries, both deep and high, with horns blowing from the void from the beginning to the edge of time itself. It’s almost like a psychedelic passage into the afterlife to a huge cavernous vestibule waiting for judgement by the gods. it then leads into a vocal-driven song which is the title track of the album itself which lifts us aloft to the heights of the world where we look across the world possibly as gods or the eagles would view the world and what lies ahead. The vocal melody is pleasantly joyous and uplifting which comes after layers of gentle effected-strings drenched in reverb build in layers to create a foundational layer of resonance for the raw scratchiness of an earthly, rustic fiddle provide the melody which is then duplicated by the vocals. It takes a beautiful and refreshing stance away from the typical Nordic folk that seems to be churned out formulaically in numbers now following the success of Wardruna. There are elements of Fedrespor that are alike to Wardruna and Forndom but is more progressive or even avant-garde. It is much more introspective and intrinsically spiritual or personal rather than presenting itself theatrically like the current trending circus of Vikingdom. Here there is no throat-gargling or comical orc impressions that are hideously in vogue. This is pure neofolk in a northern tradition weaving acoustic spells to a mesmerising and trancelike state through the hypnotic drum connecting us to nature through its beauty.
The highlight tracks are ‘Du i Min Drøm ‘ (‘You in my Dream’) is a perfect example of high craftsmanship and elegance which takes Nordic folk to another level. Fedrespor has its own unique sound, instantly recognisable amongst the many other contemporaries of its genre. Perhaps it’s unselfconscious singing which almost borders on cries or prayers, like a visionary skald who pleads with raw emotion to take note of his message. You are held captive and cannot but listen.
The same experience reoccurs in ‘Hvil ditt Hjerte’ (‘Rest Your Heart’) – we are taken into a cathartic state where we can enter a deep meditation in peace, without fear or anxiety, remorse or grief, and we can finally let go as we are taken into ‘Slipp menneske Til’ (Release the Humanity?). The only criticism musically is that it possibly has too much horn at times acts in dissonance and doesn’t really add the value as its overused. The guitar follows the rhythmic pounding of the drum taking you deeper into slumber as we assess ourselves and our wyrd (both our worth and our destiny which we work to achieve in the way we visualise).
The next track ‘Vekst’ (Growth) is a blissful noodling finger-picked double-tracked guitar piece which nurtures our roots and enables us to progress from the darkness towards the light. The style is reminiscent of the seventies folk like Roy Harper, Pink Floyd or Pentangle/John Renbourn. This is followed by the best track on the album ‘Lengselens Morgenrøde’ (The Red Longing of Dawn) which is a beautiful and epic work on par with Vali, Wolcensmen or Forseti. The melody is haunting and the arrangement is simply superb.
It’s almost like it has been composed as three movements, the pre-dawn darkness as it turns to the bluish grey before we see the rearing crimson orb which fills the sky with the orange-red aura until it rises rapidly bringing full light and much-needed warmth to our world. This could easily belong to as part of a filmscore.
The album concludes with ‘Stien… (Trail) which is an odd and questionable ending lasting only over a minute with vocal cries, piano arpeggios and mouth harp fusing a number of genres from tribal folk to neoclassical and contemporary progressive rock. It could be argued that the album would be better concluded feeling high from the ending from the track before but nevertheless it is quite a fine mini composition to literally ‘trail out’ with.
Overall, this is an essential album for those who those who adore Nordic folk and those who seek to enlighten themselves spiritually and connect to nature, their ancestors or to find themselves through meditation. Do not go back into the world without it.
Buy it from Nordvis here