When I came across a site called Depressive Visions, which featured this work, it gave more than a clue what to expect. The gentleman behind this ambient, nature-driven work is from Sweden, and what is evident is that through his music he is sharing his visions and moods.
I half expected something along the lines of the solitary mystic melancholy of Finnish artists Nest and Tenhi. In fact whilst the calm acoustic delivery of “Aprilvädret” (The April Weather) has a certain melancholy and is as far away from heaving traffic and as close to nature and solitude as you could wish, the almost Hispanic style of the acoustics have a freshness and life about them. It’s a lovely track evoking clean air and refreshing rain, not dissimilar in atmosphere to April Ethereal’s “July Afternoon”. The mood changes entirely on “Bottenlös” (Fathomless). The twisty, avant-garde style of guitar work is there but it breaks out into rasping black metal. “Ofördröjlig Evighet” (Inevitable Eternity) provides a curious ambient interlude before “En Otillgänglin Längtan” (An Inaccessible Yearning) takes us back to the world of “Aprilvädret”. In fact it’s almost “Aprilvädret part 2”. What I was not sure about here is whether I was supposed to be listening to a collective series of pieces, or just individual pieces, which is more what it seems to be. In answer to my own question, I suppose, I did read that this collection of songs was written in “different times, moods and places”. The problem I had at times was connecting them up.
I had been intrigued by the mediaeval sound which features in this work, and while listening to the delightfully delicate “Persiennernas Portar” (Persian Ports), I concluded that JoDöden must be playing a dulcimer or a similar instrument. More recognisable is the organ-sound of the deep “Vemod Fyllde Tronsalen”. It has a curious tonality about it, and breaks into a mild and unthreatening romp before returning to the shadowy organ sound. The title track, which means “sitting in the lake with water above your head”, at first lives up to its name with its calmness. Strangely for the title’s apparent concept, which would suggest immobility, the track develops through delicate scenes and then breaks off, unfathomably gravitating towards raw and rasping black metal and an eerie end. I am clearly missing something here. It didn’t get any better as a child-like voice then uttered words in what I assume is Swedish. There is the sound of foot steps. A dark, melancholic and almost funeral tune strikes up – to be fair, it is one of devastating sorrow. The song is “Sonjas Orgel” (Sonja’s Organ), Sonja presumably being the lady speaking at the beginning of the song. Of what I heard, this had for me the most powerful impact. I appreciated the fact that this wistful piece went on for over seven minutes as it allowed time and space for reflection. It ends with the lady’s echoing voice. I’m pleased that the album ended reflectively with “Vinterdvala” (Winter Sleep) as it was the delicate acoustic ambience and solitude, which are the essence of its spirit. In fact there is a bonus, “Hermoδr Á Helferδ”, a Burzum cover whose original was on the 1997 “Daudi Baldurs” album. It too has delicate ambience, and has that frosty distance and threat which you expect of a Burzum track. Whilst I didn’t perceive the menace so much in JoDöden’s work, I can see a clear affinity with Burzum’s world of uncompromising and independent nature.
I struggled to make sense of this strange album. The conveyance of mood is nice, and it has ambience but at times I found myself all over the place. I think I was too culturally distant to appreciate its structure and purpose. There were just too many loose ends here for me to absorb the experience as intended.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)