Monday, October 18, 2021

Gothtober- Kælan Mikla :" Undir Köldum Norðurljósum"

This album was timed just right.  Darker than I remember these gals from Iceland getting before, but I am not mad about it. Sure the accent is bound to bring Bjork comparisons. I wish Bjork had gotten this dark. The opener has the right amount of drive. On the second song the vocals come more to the forefront and their melody drives the song. There are crazy layers of vocals in the background that sound like screaming witches , helping to make this a perfect Halloween album.  At first it sounded like their were going to the well twice on the third song, but it turns out to be more organic and they are driving the verses with an actual bass guitar. Sung in their native tongue the melodies are infectious enough for you to sing along even if you are unsure what they words are. I think this also gives her the ability to use her voice more like an instrument. 

Midway into the album things begin to take on more of a dark wave feel. Things become more concise in how the more traditional layers of vocals and synth interact within the space in which they are mix. Guitar begins to surface and it is more reverb heavy Cure like guitar. "Sirenur" goes back to a more atmospheric route. The beat is not the album's strongest kinda feels like they are just using a default ethereal dark wave pre set. "Stormurrin" has a thudding bass to balance out the pan pipes and other dreamy elf sounds. Almost more new age than dark wave. The song after this has more wine in it's languid sway. 

Alcest joins them for " Hvitir Sandar" . This collaboration sounds almost exactly as you might imagine it would. Though Neige employs his screamed vocals that are further back in the mix. Musically it is a hypnotic shoe gaze with a big crash.  'Saman" is more like a dark folk ballad, but it is well done for what it is, even if what it is puts the bulk of the weight of the composition upon the vocals. I will give this album, a 9, I really enjoyed what they do here. If you are a fan of the more ethereal side of dark wave with a healthy side of Nordic folk mixed in at times , then this is more than worth your time. 


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