BardSpec combines stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings, and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music, that can exist anywhere, and anytime within the minds of the listener.
BardSpec is the Ambient project / band from Enslaved composer/ guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. This June, By Norse will release the debut album Hydrogen. Having launched the project at Roadburn in 2015, BardSpec has since evolved into a fully fledged band, with Steve Austin on guitars/effects, David Hall presenting the live visual aspect of the project, with the layout created by Josh Graham (Soundgarden, Neurosis, IIVII, etc.)
Whilst BardSpec might essentially be the same brain and personality making the music, compared to Enslaved, it is a widely different entity. Thematically and sonically, BardSpec is about minimising, subtracting and meditating upon the simplest essence of “things”; the single points: exemplified through the song titles, like “Bone”, “Salt” and so on, the basic elements and foundations that make up the whole. There is an element of “space” in the music, and the artwork, as a representation of the inner workings of the mind and the subconscious.
Inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, Conrad Schnitzler as well as contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When (Norwegian also), as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh. Ivar describes the appeal and trance-inducing aspects of such music to him, “I remember listening to Richard Burmer and his album “Mosaic” from 1984. I thought I fell asleep but I was in a semi-lucid state where I still registered music – but not much else. At the end of side A there’s an explosion so violent and extreme that I jumped two feet into the air and was totally shocked. The weird thing is, I couldn’t remember it being there. When I revisited the music again it was just a little “thud”. I was just experiencing a trance so deep into the music that this deviation from the pattern and frequencies in the foregoing half hour of monotony totally shocked me. I loved it!“
Hydrogen is released on 23 June across all formats. The 6-panel CD digipak is available as limited first press to 1000 including bonus track “Teeth”. The double gatefold LP is limited to 500 black vinyl, and the digital format also including the bonus track.
This release delivers yet another fascinating example of the development of ambient post-rock with nods towards electronica and early krautrock which appears prevalent at the moment. Highly enjoyable, it will be featured on Aural Delights 238.