Intro: Petros Papadogiannis
Translation: Alexandros Mantas
14 / 08 / 2017
Up in the North, the wave of bands digging in back to the most interesting era of progressive music doesn’t seem to wane. The list of groups that serve this sound includes the Norwegians Jordsjø whose name is derived from the combination of the words ‘Jord’ that means world and ‘Sjø’ that means sea. With Håkon Oftung’s stint at the prog / occult band Tusmørke and the heavy / old-school thrashers Black Magic and drummer’s Tore Flatjord at the eccentric but simultaneously enigmatic jazzers Dr. Kay & His Interstellar Tone Scientists under their belts, Jordsjø released their album Jord earlier this year in a limited edition of 50 cassette copies (now sold-out). Today it is available only in digital form through their bandcamp page along with their back catalogue.
The more underground, the better
Jordsjø, essentially a duet with a guest appearance of Robert William Dall Frøseth on bass on the track Finske Skoger, chose to sing their songs in their mother tongue, therefore the song titles and the lyrics are Norwegian. This option doesn’t strike remotely strange, I have a notion that the fans of this sound are acquainted with this language and it is perhaps ideal and much better than the English one when it comes to bands from the North for some of them.
During the 38-minute ride, a sound that nods to their compatriots Wobbler as well as their Swedish neighbours Änglagård unfolds. As it goes with these two groups, Jordsjø are driven by their deep knowledge and fondness of the 1969-1975 prog era and they create music whose roots go back to this period, yet the result sounds anything but anachronistic.
The album kicks off with a short and minimal instrumental influenced by traditional Norwegian music. The well-placed folk elements adorn their sound and the flute plays a prominent role on this, enriching the compositions. A constant melancholy looms over the music of Jordsjø. A sense of darkness engulfs the listener and drags them in the generated atmosphere. This is the strength of the Norwegians: generating feelings and images. Technically, their music is of high standards, but jamming and long-winded solos are deemed unnecessary here and as a result the songs are more straightforward. In my opinion the final outcome nods to Riktigt äkta, the great album of the Swedish Landberk back in 1992 with regard to the sound, as well as the aforementioned traits. Perhaps the only weakness of the album is the vocals. To my ears, they are a mere addition to the music. They don’t get in the way but had they been more eloquent, they would add to the final result.
A pleasant surprise comes up on the last two songs, on La Meg Forsvinne (Let me Disappear) where the synth sets a sporadic soundtrack atmosphere as if out of a cult horror movie which becomes fully-fledged in the instrumental Postludium, a near five-minute composition that bookends the album. Jord will reveal all of its qualities to the patient listener who will dedicate the necessary time to it.
8 / 10
Another very good album from our beloved contemporary Scandinavian prog scene, an album faithful to the character and the spirit of 70s prog. This is the fourth album of Jordsjø from Norway in just three years. Jord was solely released on cassette, as were their previous releases, a first sign of nostalgia which is affirmed after listening to the whole album. The range of their influences extends from the symphonic prog of Camel and Genesis to the prog folk of Jethro Tull, also reminding of Änglagård quite a bit. The relatively mediocre vocals cannot reduce the enjoyment of compositions such as Abstraksjoner Fra Et Dunkelt Kammer, Finske Skoger, Jord I & II, all of them a treat for every prog fan.
8 / 10