Jordsjø return with their fourth studio album. The duo are inspired by Scandinavian folklore, via jazz and early British prog, but that said, over their previous albums they have forged a unique sound of their own. The band made a very positive impression on me when I reviewed their debut album, Jord, for TPA, and I went on to write about the next two as well, each release demonstrating a developing maturity in the songwriting.
With Salighet they look to explore different forms of ecstasy through their compositions and lyrics, taking various sources for their inspiration, “these may be dance, mountain hikes, fairy tales, religious pondering or other inner travels”. They continue to draw from Nordic jazz, folk, 20th Century classical music and ’60s & ’70s rock, giving them the ability to reflect their aims within the music, with an impressive range of highs and lows.
This album consists of seven tracks, ranging from just under three minute to just over ten, with a total run time of a vinyl friendly forty-two minutes. Mastering was by Magnus Guldbrandsen at Jelöy Sound Mastering with the impressive artwork again supplied by Sinde Foss Skanke. As far as my research goes, there appears to be no guest musicians on this release and the duo provide all the instrumentation.
Invokasjon opens proceedings with an ‘in your face’ up front organ, with the sting taken out by some lovely flute work. The song settles into a lively rhythm before moving to a gentle ending. A statement of intent, I think, so even as the shortest song it has all the elements that make Jordsjø music so good. All the lyrics on the album are sung in Norwegian, but this does not detract from their aim to explore “forms of ecstasy”; in fact, it enhances it, along with the excellent musical compositions that reflect these moods so well.
The second track was chosen as the lead single. Sankeren (The Harvester) is a short form fairy tale about travellers who meet a figure who lives from what they can harvest; “It is a tribute to a lived life and all the things one gathers on ones journey”. This is reflected in the music, a guitar lead opening settling to introduce the vocals. The tempo shifts and the music ebbs and flows to reflect the mood of the song.
Throughout the album, Jordsjø continue to demonstrate their compositional skill, tied in with the excellent pacing of each song and great use of dynamics. The music does well at creating the mood and atmosphere to reflect the aim they had for this album. They close with Sjernestigen, which could be described as a mini epic; from the opening refrain of a gentle piano it gently builds with the introduction of various instruments. The tempo gradually builds as the song reveals itself to be beautifully atmospheric. Perfectly paced, it never overstays its ten minute running time. As the album comes to a close, it leads the listener to want to hit ‘replay’, which is clearly a good thing as there are hidden depths here and the album benefits from repeated plays.
Salighet is another leap forward in Jordsjø’s development, their musical mission to blend their influences into these songs is spot on. The quality of the songwriting and the dedication to their art is at a high level, as this very fine release demonstrates. If you have not heard Jordsjø before, please do so, I don’t think you will be disappointed as there is so much to enjoy here.
01. Invokasjon (2:52)
02. Sankeren (7:21)
03. Salighet I (6:17)
04. Salighet II (6:10)
05. Ura (6:38)
06. Danseritualar fra Jordsjø – Prosesjon & Elkstase (2:54)
07. Stjernestigen (10:21)
Total Time – 42:36
Vinyl LP Track Listing:
Side A: tracks 1 – 4
Side B: tracks 5 – 7
Håkon Oftung – Vocals, Guitars, Flute, Keyboards
Kristian Frøland – Drums & Percussion
Record Label: Karisma Records
Catalogue#: KAR259LP, KAP259CD
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 6th October 2023