cinematic music dark folk folk medieval Nordic Folk pagan review

Nanna Barslev – Lysbaerer Review

An exceptional album of dramatic dark Nordic Folk.

Sounds like…

A powerful journey through Nordic mythology to illuminate the dark.

The review

Nanna Barslev has been creating dark Nordic Folk for many years but “Lysbaerer” is her first solo album. It shows a beautifully deep understanding of her craft. The album is a dense collection of heavy, pounding sludgy forest atmospherics and Nanna’s evocative otherworldly voice.

Each track is crammed full of traditional Nordic instrumentation. Nanna herself plays the Moraharpa, Tagelharpa, Islandsk Iangspil, flute and a Bodhran drum. Surrounding these instruments is a general forest mist from all the atmospherics. The drums have a resonant echo to them that hit your very bones and the harpas (they sound like fiddles) have a reverb to them that gives them an ethereal edge. Throughout all of this, Nanna’s voice captivates you. Whether she is giving her Lorenna McKennitt best in the higher register or something more “pagan” inspired. Her voice really powers through and Nanna’s ability to command like fire and then layer her vocals to evoke wind and air is exceptional.

Many songs do not have an overtly catchy melody but they convey a mood. It never goes into drone territory as chords and notes are constantly piling on but the songs often feel like onward marches that shapeshift like the opener “Skjoldmo”. Elsewhere, when things are more melodic, Nanna often chooses the darker chord progressions such as the phenomenal “Mod vrede” and its outro. On speaking about the album, Nanna Barslev said that she felt like she was walking through mythology with a fire torch in hand to bring light and healing to the world. That’s exactly how I feel about this album too. Everything is so tense and cinematically dark – her voice brings you comfort and warmth. Towards the end of the album with tracks like “Sunna Sol” and “Sten”, the darkness lifts and a lighter, more angelic (sometimes operatic) guttural experience takes over.

“Lysbaerer” means “carrier of light” and this is a fantastic Nordic Folk album. It works from both a cinematic musical and a story perspective and is utterly captivating. Any fans of Wardruna, Faun and Elvor to name but a few – grab this now. It is a quintessential purchase.

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Nanna Barslev - Lysbaerer



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