Published on 7th November 2020
Brudini – From Darkness, Light
Brudini’s debut album, From Darkness, Light, has blown me away, and come from nowhere to being a contender for my favourite album of the year. Brudini (aka Erik Brudvik) has created an absolutely magical and melodramatic album of poetry and song that evokes Scandinavian melancholy, smokey Parisian cafés, beatnik open stage poetry nights in New York coffee bars, and debauched Soho nightlife in London. It’s over the top, everything but the kitchen sink, and what the hell, throw the kitchen sink in too, wonderfulness that has absolutely no right to sound as good as it does. I’m reminded of unlikely troubadours such as Lou Reed, Morrisey and David Bowie, haunted by the ghost of Jim Morrison, gentle a la Gazpacho, but with an undercurrent frisson of SikTh. Does that make any kind of sense? No, probably not, so just sit back and listen.
Our journey begins with Roselight. The protagonist takes to the stage and switches on the mic. The piano plays a minimalist melody, and a nostalgic narrative is deadpanned in a detached manner to a silent audience. There’s a strange kind of sentimentality to the piece, and it’s beautiful in its way, and entirely captivating. It’s impossible not to be entranced. The mic is turned off, and the first song begins. Based upon the introductory spoken word piece, when I first heard this I was quite taken aback by just how beautifully it is sung. Roselight had me expecting a morbid and depressing affair like Lou Reed’s Berlin (which, by the way, is one of my favourites of his albums, in spite of that – or perhaps even, because of it). Instead, though there is a lugubrious nature to the music and vocals, there is an upbeat feel to Nightcrawler. Did I mention how beautiful this track is? Yes, I think I did – but it’s worth repeating.
Hunger very much reminds me of some of the spoken word SikTh tracks, with its industrial beat and backing track. It disintegrates into squalls of sounds, before fading into the neat groove and rhythm of Reflections. From darkness, light. It’s hard not to read that into the sequencing of tracks, as the spoken word tracks definitely feel heavier and darker than the lighter and more up-beat songs that follow them. And yet, it’s clear that on reflection, things really aren’t that much brighter. The music might be, but lyrically we’re still on the same nostalgic trip the album began on. Except it wasn’t that great then, and it’s not much better now. Well, such are reflections on life, sometimes.
Arthur Rimbaud is probably best known in New Zealand for his relationship with Paul Verlaine, as heard through the lyrics to The Verlaines’ greatest hit, Death and the Maiden. The duo’s wild and debauched life eventually brought them to London, where Erik Brudvik has also ended up, after wandering the world to find somewhere he could call home. To the sweet sound of scratching as fingers slide across the frets (I’ve always liked this sound, though I realise to others it can be akin to scratching nails down a blackboard), another soliloquy awaits us, albeit one perhaps harder to scrutinise than those that have come previously. Female Rimbaud is a strange and stripped back track, which is all the more intriguing because of it. There’s an almost perverse feel to it, as if we’re eavesdropping on something we aren’t really meant to hear.
Industrial meets psychedelic in Emotional Outlaw. If before I’ve hinted at comparisons to Jim Morrison, this is now Ray Manzarek, with some lovely organ flourishes. A sexy double bass comes in about halfway through, and the whole song calls ‘come hither’. We are invited into the boudoir, and all is ethereal and inviting, and veiled in a hallucinogenic haze, as the song crescendos and climaxes ecstatically, before letting itself down gently with a return of vocals. And suddenly and surprisingly, we are serenaded by, of all things, a tuba. Well, I think it’s a tuba. Don’t quote me on that. But certainly the brass-led Pale Gold is a delight. I absolutely love this song, which sounds like a battle between Morrissey and Morricone. It is as ridiculous as that sounds, but it’s ridiculously good. This is Spaghetti Western with extra meatballs!
But wait, did we get two songs in a row with no spoken word interlude? We did indeed, but fear not, as God Unknown is here to make amends, with some swirling synths spiralling away beneath the monologue. And yet, this short track is more of an introductory piece than an interlude, as it segues straight into Radiant Man – the synths continuing to swirl, as the song begins. Even the vocals seem somewhat detached initially, as if unsure yet whether the song has actually begun. And, in fact, the song does virtually start again soon after. It’s a really interesting trick, and it works surprisingly well. I absolutely love the sound of the drums on this track. It ends with a final swirl of synth, and it’s back to spoke word, with Ariel, underscored with some rather haunting sounds.
The quiet of Ariel works perfectly to give space for the beginning of Everything is Movement, which may be true, but that movement is initially as slow as a snail racing a sloth (and just watch that es-car-go!). It’s sparse and stark and grand, and it demands attention – and then the beat kicks in. It’s the most downbeat disco you’ve ever heard, funky as hell, but as likely to have you slitting your wrists as swinging your hips. This is quite possibly my favourite song on the album, and the album could so easily have ended with it, too. It is a perfect closing number! But wait, there’s more!
Reminiscent of Bowie’s Stylophone and Space Oddity, the album closes out with the shimmery, sparkly, and spacey Boulevards. As detached as Major Tom, and as our narrator has been for so much of this album – but content and accepting to float away. From darkness, light. It’s an incredibly delicate and poignant end to a highly original album full of quirky and surreal beauty, and all too real human emotion. This is an album that hits hard, and leaves a deep impression. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to it again. (And again…)
[You can read Nick’s interview with Brudini’s Erik Brudvik HERE.]
01. Roselight (2:16)
02. Nightcrawler (4:15)
03. Hunger (2:46)
04. Reflections (4:20)
05. Female Rimbaud (1:40)
06. Emotional Outlaw (4:35)
07. Pale Gold (3:31)
08. God Unknown (1:21)
09. Radiant Man (3:27)
10. Ariel (1:36)
11. Everything is Movement (6:29)
12. Boulevards (2:29)
Total Time – 38:45
Brudini (Erik Brudvik) – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Piano, Analogue Synths, Harmonium, Noise
Chip Martin – Poetry (tracks 1,3,5,8 & 10)
Derin Bayhan – Drums (tracks 4,6,7 & 9)
Livio Polisano – Drums (tracks 2 & 11)
Casper Hoedemaekers – Double Bass, Tuba
Jonas Sellevold – Bass (tracks 4 & 11)
Audun Waage – Trumpet (track 7)
Rita Kvist – Backing Vocals (track 4)
Maddy Georgieva – Violins (track 11)
Record Label: Apollon Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 9th October 2020