One of the most exquisite examples of sheer musical magic in recent times has come courtesy of ‘Vidde’, the fantastic debut LP from Norway’s Atlanter. According to the press release “The band describe their thoroughly eclectic sound as ‘Viddeblues’. ‘Vidde’ in Norwegian, refers to an open mountain landscape; an image as elemental as their blues and folklore inspired roots”. This album does a great job of conjuring up such mental illustrations, a record that inspires the imagination to paint vivid pictures. The band are led by Jens Carelius and Arild Hammerø, with percussionist Jonas Barsten Johnsen and bassist Morten Kvam bringing together musical experiences within from jazz, folk, rock and improv music. Combine the aforementioned styles with touches of psychedelica and prog, along with a subtle baroque flavour, and you get one of this year’s most fascinating and enticing records.
The opening ‘Tree Song’ served as my introduction to this group and quickly became a favourite track of mine, so I was keen to find out if the rest of the album delivered such high quality. I was not disappointed. The first time I listened to it, there was just SOMETHING about it that made me want to listen again. The aforementioned single builds itself on a relentless beat that brings to mind a multifaceted homage to Can’s seminal ‘Halleluwah’, while the melodies catch the ear effortlessly. There are all sorts of refreshingly human sounds here, ranging from the intertwining guitar picking to the almost jazz-like rhythms. The repetitions bring to mind krautrock and the magnificent vocal harmonies add more colour to the inspired mixture of desert blues and psychedelica. The superbly tight ‘Aye’ hammers the drums into the listener’s conscious as it progresses, a fine example of how this accessible yet progressive music twists and turns, encouraging you to listen in more carefully, and tempting with the promise of more intriguing developments. It makes great use of repetition and when the beat changes, it’s not difficult to feel the impact.
Just the right amount of diversity is applied throughout, the towering ‘Kaktos’ followed by the loose, tangled acoustics of the brief ‘Air’, and ‘More Juice Than Zeus’’s nagging hook soon ascending into a driving rhythm that reaches skywards, ending with a rare burst of odd electronics. It’s the only time you’ll hear any kind of machine on this album, where each song is unique, and all bound together by the record’s natural, beautifully organic instrumentation. ‘Pike’’s stunning arrangement brings out the best in a song that perfectly exhibits the huge degree of imagination, skill and sheer brilliance that can be heard on this record, while the soaring, mysteriously epic beauty of ‘Waking’ proves their superb ability to convey powerful moods and atmospheres. The haunted elegance of the instrumental ‘Desert’ brings with it some delicious acoustics, and afterwards, the closing defiant blues of ‘Ling’ captures the desert spirit with ease.
Take the time to absorb these sounds, for ‘Vidde’ isn’t designed to you first time round. Instant gratification followed by a lifetime left on the shelf is not what this record aims for. There’s too much here for the human mind to possibly take in and understand fully during the first listen. The next time you listen to it, you’ll notice parts that you didn’t hear before. ‘Vidde’ is the sort of record that entices you to spend more time with it, revealing more as it intrigues and charms with each listen. Maybe it’s supposed to grow over the course of multiple plays because it DESERVES to be listened to many times.
Treat yourself to a copy of this record. Don’t miss out on the rewarding experience that these nine magnificent earworms have to offer. Rating: