This month brought me a nice set of northern European discs that all are packed with those oddball letters that may or may not render correctly on your display. Let’s take a look at Forndom, a guy who applies classical arrangement to dark, moody ambience that’s not exactly rock and roll, nor exactly choir, and certainly not metal. We hear seven tracks, each imbued with a steady and slow drum pattern, overlaid with not exactly notes, but finely-tuned ambient samples.

Titles hearken back to Norse mythology, heroes, and heavens. “Yggdrasil” surrounds us with a male choir and not-quite musicality that makes me think of the northern lights and the endless winters of the far north. Lyrics drip with meaning, unintelligible to those of us from Southern climes. Drums become more intense as we progress through “Finnmarken” and a cello appears, illuminating the dark sky with reflections form the snow-covered universe. Vocals retreat, yet we feel this ship is marching on across a vast space between heaven and hell. At mid-album a male chorus returns, perhaps with news of an enemy, or success at hunting.

It’s not easy to resolve, and the chorus seems equally ineligible to inform. It is life, lived in the north. Cold, hard, and bountiful, just like this album of dark joys.

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