A band’s name is its shop window, their one opportunity to create that all important first impression and the name may well determine whether someone actually gives them a listen or simply skips past them. As such, it is important that the name stands out from the crowd and conveys a sense of what should be expected from the music. Having had Osi and the Jupiter’s last EP (Grå Hest), and now the latest album ‘Nordlige Rúnaskog’ for review, I was left pondering what the band’s name means. Could it be an obscure reference to Norse mythology, or perhaps Northern Paganism? Well, if facebook is to be believed (me cynical….never!), the band is simply named after the main-man’s German Shepherds, Osiris and Jupiter! So, it doesn’t actually give us much of a clue about what to expect….
Those in the know, or who perhaps read the EP review mentioned above, will know that Osi and the Jupiter are a largely instrumental acoustic neofolk outfit based around the talents of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sean Kratz, ably supported by cellist Kakophonix.
Opening track ‘Fjörgyn’ is a brooding piece built around pulsating rhythms and subtle chants, accompanied by a cello which is very prominent in the mix and contrasts awkwardly with the tranquillity of the rest of the piece. This was the theme for the next few tracks with haunting acoustic melodies, and soft subtle vocals juxtaposed with grating cello.
However, as the album develops it somehow matures and the cello sits easier augmenting rather than clashing. ‘Ettr Storman’ opens with a crackling fire and then evolves with chanting and mesmerising rhythms before the more pensive ‘Nordlige Eik Tre’ takes control. By this point, the album has developed a spiritual feel, and I had become completely immersed in their world, transfixed as ‘GaldrFöder’ opened with the sound of pouring rain before the vocals grew, initially were akin to Warduna and latterly Heilung, leading into ‘The White Elk’.
At over ten minutes, this epic has plenty of time to develop its peaceful, prominent emotive melodies and clean vocals, and for me this is the highlight of the album. The closing trio of tracks are more sombre and melancholic but no less effective creating an atmosphere of wistful rumination and austere reflection.
This is not an immediate, easy listen but if you are prepared to give yourself over to the music and allow its chilling, captivating melodies to take hold, then you will be richly rewarded.
( 7.5/10 Andy Pountney)