Mostly known for her eerie black metal influenced folk music, Danish artist MYRKUR (or Amalie Bruun) is releasing her third full-length album “Folkesange” on 20 March 2020 through Relapse Records. “Folkesange” sees MYRKUR tapping into her passion for traditional folk music, which sets it apart from the previously released records “Mareridt,” and “M.”
Bruun introduces some traditional Nordic elements in her music while keeping her own identity, as a result, “Folkesange” offers tracks like the fragile opener “Ella.” With simple vocal melodies, and only accompanied by traditional instruments, the opening track of “Folkesange” immediately sets the tone for the rest of the record: an introspective journey through old traditional soundscapes, which is perfectly executed.
“Fager som en Ros” is a bit more uptempo and has a bit of a rhythmic undertone with the percussion elements that take a central spot. In the track, Bruun also uses the ancient Norwegian art of kulning (or herding calls in English), which give an even more authentic feel to this song. “Leaves of Yggdrasil,” surprisingly, is sung in English, and therefore differentiates itself from the rest of the tracks of the album. Maybe it’s due to the language but it feels a bit more of a Western European traditional song than one from up North, but it keeps Bruun‘s trademark sound.
Dating back to the 1600s, the extremely melancholic “Ramund” is a traditional song featuring the nyckelharpa, one of Scandinavia’s many treasures. “Tor i Helheim” starts off with kulning again, creating a mystic atmosphere before the song takes off. If you close your eyes you can already imagine yourself calling on your livestock down from high mountain pastures where they have been grazing during the day.
“Svea” again introduces the nyckelharpa. “Svea,” according to Bruun is a tribute to Sweden’s folk music, and culture. There’s something very otherworldly about the combination of the instrument with Amalie Bruun‘s vocals. Serene, and just simply beautiful. “Svea” is followed by the medieval-sounding “Harpens Kraft,” which has a lyre strumming, accompanied by a cello, and Amalie Bruun‘s playful rhythmic vocals.
The medieval feel continues with “Gammelkäring,” a song that in medieval times probably could have been a great party hit, where many people would have gathered and danced together to the somewhat happy, but at the same time melancholic song. “House Carpenter” is an old Scottish ballad also known as “The Daemon Lover.” Sticking to the acoustic guitar to accompany her, the story tells of a tale of heartbreak. A woman leaves her husband, the house carpenter, and her child, for a former love, only to drown at sea. Amalie Bruun sings the story with much anima and exceptional skill.
“Reijar” includes beautiful vocal harmonies that give the minimalistic approach to the song a haunting extra dimension. The song is accompanied by soft piano and cello melodies, that somewhat underline that sometimes beauty can be found in simplicity. “Gudernes Vilje” is truly enchanting as a third of the song is created by hauntingly beautiful vocals, after which string instruments and drums create a soundscape that is truly moving.
The last piece of the puzzle is the slightly hopeful “Vinter,” which actually sounds a bit like it could have been a Yann Tiersen song. The simple piano melody is strengthened by layers of vocal harmonies. It ends the album on a positive note, and definitely ensures pressing that play button again.
A lot of people keep on talking about the directional shift that MYRKUR has taken in this album, however, these elements have always been present in her music, and it seems like a logical progression from her earlier material. Personally, I feel that “Folkesange” is a perfect mixture of traditional folk melodies, with Bruun‘s own unique identity. It’s calm, it’s soothing, peaceful, and simply beautiful. “Folkesange” places you in the mountains in Norway, surrounded by glaciers, and for an artist to be able to transport you with an album like “Folkesange” is definitely a job well executed!
2. Fager Som En Ros
3. Leaves Of Yggdrasil
5. Tor I Helheim
7. Harpens Kraft
9. House Carpenter
11. Gudernes Vilje