This is the second collaboration between Enslaved and Wardruna luminaries Ivar Bjornson and Einar Selvik after the success of their Skuggsja work. If you enjoyed that album, then there’s no reason why this follow up shouldn’t snuggle up right next to it. I mean, firstly, you simply are not going to get a bad album from this duo: i just don’t believe it’s in their DNA to allow anything less than beautifully executed and deeply emotional music to be released. Secondly their vessel explores the same broad musical waters as Skuggsja did; broadly majestic, thoughtful and reflective music where the coastline of traditional folk music opens out into the ocean of world music. Just as their last album did, there is nothing here that wouldn’t wrap itself around the heart of any fan of the gents individual bands, not should they come across it would a follower of Dead Can Dance find themselves in an alien world.
Again I find myself a little lost for words. I know, I know, it’s my job to articulate these sounds into words, but sometimes it is hard. Particularly when, again, I find the album hard to dismantle in terms of individual songs. Everything here blends seamlessly. Even when a song like ‘Nettseglar’ begins with some very modern keyboard sounds (I think…) It soon flows back towards the half chanted voices and the eerie tonal sounds that characterise Hugsja. We get perhaps more of a tidal feel than on the debut, a definite recurring rise and swell of the voices towards an emotional crest that has me looking out into the mists around my home and wondering what is there beyond it. This is music that somehow clears a space around you, clears the mundane meanings from your surroundings and offers something deeper and beyond if you choose to let it in.
Of course you could just enjoy the tunes. But you’d be leaving half the soul of the album behind.
Hugsja is another fine, articulate and somewhat magical album in that it offers a way of moving beyond where you sit, should you so wish. If not simply enjoy the sumptuous sounds and seemingly effortless class displayed. You’ll not feel short changed.