Havdis "Novemberlys" CD
Swedish gterma certainly belongs to my fave drifting ambient-focused labels. This fastly emerging sympathetic label, run by Johan Rehn, started, if I am right, during 2011 and now their portfolio features around 50 CD releases, counting not only iconic veterans such as Mathias Grassow (also with Rüdiger Gleisberg), David Parsons, Markus Reuter and the late Oophoi (as Aqua Dorsa with Enrico Coniglio) or acclaimed Hakobune, Jason Sloan or Seetyca, but several other lesser known, yet ambitious and potential projects. Norwegian one man Havdis is one of them. The only thing I know about this project is the name of its main sculptor, Odd Jensen. The rest remains wrapped by intriguing mystery. Yeah, it drives me a bit nuts at some points, but on the other hand I respect Odd Jensen's privacy and I don't mind, because as Havdis he is always able to deliver a top-notch dronescaping work. That was the case of previously reviewed CDs, "Nightbreeze", released in October 2013, and "The Hidden Islands", which is out since March 2012. As usual for each Havdis' album, Nina Benjaminsen is responsible for stunningly immersing photographs of Norwegian, mostly coastal natural terrains, masterfully portraying Havdis' enigmatic soundworlds. An 8-panel front cover insert of "Novemberlys" with back tray card is obviously no exception. Well-done, Nina!!! Johan Rehn takes care of the design duties, while A.P aka Anders Peterson expertly utilizes his mastering skills. "Novemberlys" was composed between 2012-2015 and was released during January 2016.
4-minute "The Waterhorse" opens with shoreline recordings, which are soon joined by warmly embracing washes and permeated by enigmatic glimpses and utterly gorgeous unfathomable choir-like drones. Additional, hauntingly ominous subterranean traceries sneak in as well. Strikingly graceful panoramas are counterpointed by perplexingly hypogean subtleties. A very strong intro!!! "Dressed In Dark Water" delves deeply into fascinatingly shadowy underwater domains with persistently rising and ebbing magnitudes, eerie effusions, reverberating helixes, cyber-biotic vestiges and climaxing silent ephemerons. What a beauty!!! "Deepsea Dweller", as announced by its title, dives into bottomless domains guarded by undulating ambiguous drones, while ear-tickling clinks are confronted with tenebrously rumbling bell echoes. This must be Havdis at its most submerging!!! "The Wind On A Lonely Hill", with 19 minutes the longest piece on "Novemberlys", unfolds with continuous drone, rather monochromatic, although crepuscularly serpentine and perpetually reinforced by gossamer cyber-tech fragments, while clandestinely solitary wind drifts and sweeps steeply sloping maritime cliff. "Glass Atmosphere" clocks just over a 13-minute mark and immerses the listener into an ultimate atmospheric opus, where magnificently flatlined drone coalesces with transient elusive pulses and oracularly encircling tinkles and glides through staggeringly enrapturing twilight sceneries, no matter if startlingly dramatic landscapes or beautifully silent meadows. "Wintersleep" unlocks the gates to the darkest caves in snow-capped forested hills, meticulously merging abysmally sinister drone breaths with glimmering primordial images and transcendental echoes of ringing enigmas. 17 and a half minutes long "The Strange Sighting At Søftan" closes this breathtaking journey with slightly lighter, yet abundantly dark tapestries, highlighted by mesmerizingly relentless oscillating meridians and guarded by warmly nebulous panoptic drones, serenely gliding into tenaciously expansive horizons, with inconspicuously permeating rhythmic vagueness. Havdis' aural insignias are fully activated and splendorously blossoming, atmospheric grace at its most enigmatic!!!
Almost 79 minutes long "Novemberlys" is another thrillingly accomplished installment by this obscure soundcarver, as usual, intensely exhibiting all his strikingly immersing signatures. A truly rewarding listening journey awaits for all connoisseurs of fascinatingly amorphous drone zones!!! It's no secret this project is one of my most favorites coming from the Scandinavian territories. Bravo and keep on droning, Odd!!! And kudos for your always good eye, Nina!!! So don't miss "Novemberlys"!!! And of course "Nightbreeze" and "The Hidden Islands" too...
Richard Gürtler (Aug 29, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)