Swedish nature-gazer Erik Gärdefors is the person behind everything we hear in Grift. He has worked with others in bands such as Insult, Orcivus & Arfsynd but has gone it very much alone here following up debut album Syner and splits with the likes of Drudkh, Farsot and Saiva. There is a huge sense of isolation and individuality about this stemming not just from the solitary building on the cover art that screams out “neighbours and visitors do not entry” and indeed this is a work that flows from the forests around where he lives. Summing things up with seven tracks and just over half an hour of music everything is done in native language. The album title translates to The Heritage and traditional instruments are utilised in its recording making this feel very much like you have stepped back in time.
A ghostly string sound mourns in its isolation before timpani drums slowly pick up a beat on opener ‘Flyktfast.’ It’s all rather folky and pastoral although this changes once the vocals come in. Erik goes for what can only be termed as a strident and raucous delivery which is full of emotion and expression. Obviously what he is speaking about is lost but the urgency is replicated by the blackened swirl of the instrumentation suddenly flowing behind it. You could be really cruel here and say he does sound a bit like a parrot being strangled at times but I found it easy to gel with and it works well with the tone of things which rages with stacks of focussed melody. Speaking of animals we get field recordings occasionally at the start of tracks of the habitual residents the musician is sharing space with such as the cry of a fox and the hoot of a tawny owl. There is also a little bit of guest vocal appearance during the album from members of Forndom, Mosaic, and Noêta for you to listen out for.
At times the songs are very gentle such as ‘Den stora tystnaden’ building up from a neo-folk beginning into a denser sound as ‘The Big Silence’ takes grip. In the end we have a headlong dash and a blackened fervour as mighty as the likes of say Taake or Arckanum. Morning strikes as a particularly cold and barren place as the Psalmodikon delivers its wake up call on ‘Morgon på Strömsholm,’ its Nekromantik call really makes you want to pull the duvet over your head and hide. It’s a particularly ghostly song full of spirits of the past lingering like mist. The spoken word part full of mystery and intrigue as it poetically wakes from slumber.
This is very much an album to immerse yourself within its folds and go with the flow. Melodies and bursts of speed as well as those high hitting vocals make it a journey that’s far from one-dimensional and it’s obviously a rich and personal one to embark on, the character of its muse following every step of the way to vitriolic closing number ‘Utdöingsbygd’ Nope I don’t have a clue what that means either!
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)