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Vàli – Skogslandskap

Vàli Skogslandskap

The Norwegian one-man project Vàli created quite a raging disturbance in the world when they came out of the dark to release the extremely limited demo Forlatt, which was originally released almost a decade ago in 2004. I personally missed out on that apparent classic, but now it appears to have been re-released in company with Skogslandskap, a polished and absolutely brilliant sibling. In hindsight, I should have listened to the hype the first time. Vàli have, with Skogslandskap, crafted a damn fine album filled to the brim with mellow acoustic compositions of primarily acoustic guitars that are accompanied by various folk instrumentation including strings and flute, as well as piano. The album is nothing short of a dreamlike fairytale that hits just the right spot for me. Many individuals have compared the music to that of Ulver‘s Kveldssanger, but this, at least to me, is like comparing diamonds to coal. Sure, they are both made of the same basic components, but Vàli takes the material much further than Ulver ever did.

There is a certain quality about this album that just takes it above and beyond. One of its main strengths are the alluring melodies that frankly spellbind me with grand visions of magical woodlands and misty mountains. The sound is crisp and alive, and quite far from the synthesized recordings that generally make up the rest of the neoclassical acts in these modern times. It is intriguing that only a few select instruments can conjure and capture so much emotion. “Et Teppe av Mose” soars with delight under the tune of an acoustic guitar and a serene flute, and “Skyggespill”, on the other end, feels both playful and solemn under the sway of a stern violin. There is not really much to discern on the critical spectrum. From the first note to the last, this album is a joyful experience that carves a strong place into my soul. It is a vivid and living dream come true with splendid craftsmanship in both composition and execution. It is pure joy to just feel the intricate layers of each instrument, and — to crown the album — the production is nothing short of brilliance. Each and every instrument feels strong, crisp and clear like a mountain stream. The instruments are handled with an expertise that is only seldom encountered; throughout the album, a wide selection of techniques and styles are presented, giving Skogslandskap quite a wide sway that only immerses the listener further into a grand journey through the moonlit forests of ancient Scandinavia.

The first snows have just covered the ground in Winter’s embrace and frost breath, and my thoughts wander back to the height of Autumn — specifically those times when the grass was green, the winds caressed more gently and the harvest moon wandered upon the evening sky. Now, all that is far behind me, and as the grasp of the year’s growing darkness settles upon the lands, I brood once more upon my ice-veiled throne. Skogslandskap brought me back to those golden days of Autumn once more, when the forest glows in the evening light and a hidden sensation fills the land. This is absolutely one of the best albums to cross my path in quite a while, and I am sure it will stick with me to the end of times.

Track List:

A1) Nordavindens Klagesang
A2) I Skumringstimen
A3) Gjemt Under Grener
A4) Langt I det Fjerne
A5) Mellom Grantraer
A6) Himmelens Groenne arr
A7) Et Teppe av Mose
B1) Sevjedraaper
B2) Dystre Naturbilder
B3) Flytende Vann
B4) Stein og Bark
B5) Lokkende Lyder
B6) Skyggespill
B7) Roede Blader
B8) Morgengry

Rating: 5/5
Written by: Skarsnik
Label: Auerbach Tonträger (Germany) / AB059LP / LP
Acoustic / Neofolk / Instrumental