Music Reviews
Gabbarein

Gabbarein

Our Silent Canvas

My friend asked me yesterday if I meditate. “What do you do to get rid of all your anger?” We had been having a regular old conversation at the time. This makes me think I should probably meditate. I have tried, with little success — I just can’t stop, you know, focusing on my anger.

So some music has been screaming from my mailbox for months, and today I’m ready with headphones and coffee and laundry going… and look at this little gift from the universe that I finally hear: Gabbarein.

These musicians are meditating. Hard. For me. Thank you.

Christopher Bono and Cecilie Hafstad of Gabbarein
courtesy of Force Field PR
Christopher Bono and Cecilie Hafstad of Gabbarein

Gabbarein are Norwegian vocalist Cecilie Hafstad and American composer and producer Christopher Bono (Ghost Against Ghost), and their self-titled LP comes to us from a fjord in Lyngen, Norway. The band’s name itself means “holy reindeer” in the native Sámi language, a tribute to the actual white reindeer that dropped by, lending a touch more magic to what must have been an already transfixing recording session — and an image for the cover.

The album begins with “Ra Rising Sun,” what sounds like a whimsical folk vocal against perhaps kalimba, taking a full two minutes to add in all the instruments, creating a solemn march that commands attention, drawing it back to the crystal vocal, leaving us with its haunting.

On to wistful ballad “Kyss Meg” (Kiss Me) and percussive “Cumash Canyon” and “Så Stille” (“So Quiet”), with its sound-of-clarinet intro, baby piano tinkles, and more haunting, this time in the vocal, and “Elsker” (Love), airy yet persistent and with a gorgeous visual to anchor us.

Focus track “Jeg Hører Deg” (“I Hear You”) is a very real breakup song, sparse and strong, mimicking the rest of the album in its powerful rise, its video incorporating mask and dance and somber death, final.

“Yggdrasil” (“Gallows” maybe) is a full-on dirge, easing in and out like lungs or drama, death again. It’s the most dramatic song on an album of dramatic songs, and I love its weight. Along, along… “Alt en kan tenke seg” (“Everything You Can Imagine”) a nice droning, and the album wraps with a return to the folk on “Mamma.” Each song is a beautiful dream that could be about doing the dishes, but we know it’s much more.

A spellbinding meditation.

The album streams everywhere May 3. Buy it from Our Silent Canvas.

Gabbarein


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