Burzum. What was once a name that struck a certain amount of misplaced awe into impressionable youth, it’s now more clearly recognisable as a brand in need of sustenance.
There have been what, four releases now in the last four years – one brilliant, one pretty good, the latter utterly forgetable and now this, another dark ambient keyboard album.
Dont get me wrong, the keyboard albums had their place. Many people still listen with fondness to the ‘prison albums’, ‘Daudi Baldrs’ and ‘Hildskjalf’, which despite their limitations do at least conjure something of a mood.
But with the quality of ideas on ‘Umskiptar’ audibly running out, one must be suspicious that this too has been rather hastily banged out to keep the home fires burning round Bergen way.
I’m not going to go into a track by track rundown of this collection of hippy-shop mood pieces, because there’s a quicker and much more accurate way to sum the whole thing up.
It sounds like the music you hear in your massage therapist’s aromatherapy room.
It could be called ‘Enchanting Crystal Moods’. It could be called ‘Pine Forest Utopia Senses 3’. It could be called ‘Magic Winds: Spa Music For Relaxation’.
It could be called anything, because it doesnt particularly sound like anything, least of all a post black metal album full of darkness made by a mental, fascist murderer, which is sadly the music people still hanker for.
The only reasonable breakdown I can make between the tracks is that some sound 80s and some sound more fantasy led.
The 80s style tracks could be immediately bettered by instead picking up any John Foxx album (indeed ‘Cathedral Oceans’ excels this in quality and mood by about, oh, a thousand times), while the ethereal ones are just plain… soft.
I guess, being generous, you could say they’re hypnotic or meditative in some way. And that’s true. Burzum has always had that quality. But they’re no more so than those aromatherapy cds I’ve mentioned. Even those have a slightly triste feeling, I’ve noticed (don’t ask).
I dont know how crafted this is, and perhaps there are deeper virtues I haven’t discovered about it yet. I doubt it though. Its surpassing ordinariness is a bit of a shocker, meaning that even the relatively safe and homogenous ‘Umskiptar’ is actually a more satisfying listen.
It’s not bad, in the right context. One can definitely imagine sitting in misanthropic solitude, contemplating runes and forest streams while ‘Haugaeldr’ weaves its sinewy textures through your mind.
It’s bargain bin stuff from the new age section, and dont let the name, the logo or some shill tell you otherwise.
1.7 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 20/05/13