It didn’t take long to grab the pagan vibe from the Nordic-inspired track listing of Idis Örlög’s 2013 release, The Spiral Tide of Seasons— an album that carries with it an aesthetic from the darker months. As a practicing naturalist pagan in the Southern Hemisphere, this record represents the polar opposite of the seasonal change I’m experiencing at the moment. It’s a record like this that I hope to draw reflection from, to create the aforementioned contrast, provided the record makes it into my rotation.
Beginning with ‘The Invocation of the Idis’ (the Idis being described as a guardian angel on the cover insert), the chanting incantations are haunting, eerie, and distinctly out of synchronisation. A shamanic drumbeat provides some percussive presence; alas, if it were any closer to the studio microphone, it would damage the skin. A soprano overtone appears now and then, and like a stray dog in a sheep yard, you just want to shoo it away.
‘The Northern Shaman’ is the highlight and beacon of hope for the record. Although it exerts the most positive embellishment of melodic influence, the guitar playing seems tense on both hands. The over-strums haven’t been tidied, and the turnarounds seem delayed, hesitant, and rushed along with the layers of whistles, vocals, drums, and jaw harp that conflict with one another. It reminds me of a live bluegrass band playing into a single microphone, but everyone is looking for a piece of the limelight at the same time.
From an ‘insert and play’ perspective, this record had red flags all over it from the outset. After a complete listen-through, I could see where Idis Örlög was coming from, but I’m not convinced that she could. If I were a producer, this record would be accepted as nothing other than a pilot and a guide to the proposed ‘final product’. It comes across as a purely amateur effort: rushed and poorly mastered. Pythagoras is said to have laid the foundations and complexities of mathematical development that codified fundamental music development into the universal language that it has evolved into. The equation and language of this record remains unsolved, and I hope the aforementioned incantations aren’t honouring the Greek god himself.
Having said that, I’d love to get this record in the hands of a decent producer and have it mended and moulded into the masterpiece it could’ have been. Or perhaps the spontaneity and recording style was intentional and the ultra-rustic and off-tempo vibe was the goal.
At the time of writing, Idis Örlög have just several months ago released a new album in Frøya og Svipdag and Songs from Njartharlåg, and for the sake of my seeing their potential, I’m going to see what they have been up to.
01) Invocation of the Idis
02) I Am of the Wind
05) Amber and Gold
08) The Northern Shaman
09) These Deep Waters
10) Of Ancient Ones
11) Aske and Embla
12) Outro (Passing of the Seasons)