Úlfur – White Mountain

White Mountain turned out to be a quiet revelation. It is an unprepossessing listen, it certainly doesn’t look to impress: but because of that it’s also very tactile and subtle music; and beautifully weighted to boot.

http://www.konkurrent.nl http://ulfurhansson.com/

This spring been a cold old time round our neck of the woods, and I’m sure most people by now have had enough of it all, and won’t welcome listening to music that reinforces the fact that it’s bloody freezing outside.. but this record, White Mountain, is a superb soundtrack for a still winter’s day. I seriously recommend you give it a spin if you’re in the mood for a reflective, interesting listen.

A quick confession: when I saw the cover (ice, weird script), and saw the name (suggestion that it’s a bunch of maudlin Icelandic or Swedish YOUTHS who all follow strict macrobiotic diets) I thought, ah one of those artsy mood LPs, and then… even worse, (no, let me correct myself… much, much worse than even worse) seeing dreaded words like clarinet, viola or cello and flutes, (yes, flutes) on the inner sleeve nearly had me throwing this away without giving it the Benefit Of The Doubt - which is What You Are Supposed To Do, when reviewing.  Even that feeling nearly hit the buffers when I heard the opening bird noises – as an introduction to set atmosphere, doubtless…

Luckily after that , White Mountain turned out to be a quiet revelation. It is an unprepossessing listen, it certainly doesn’t look to impress: but because of that it’s also very tactile and subtle music; and beautifully weighted to boot. Nothing feels as if it’s there for effect; despite there being a fair old number of changes in structure and sounds: Black Shore is a great example, with vibraphone and samples combining to set up a quizzical, gently pulsating panorama. Heaven In A Wildflower is similarly prismatic, initially a woodwind-driven mood piece, the strings see it double up as a very engaging folk melody.  It’s also a strong record; confident and sure of itself. So Very Strange and Knoll of Juniper have a supine power about them, happy to experiment with various ways of setting the scene. The latter track has a ghostly presence about it, and the humming electronic modulations see it slowly veering towards Brian Eno territory.

So, lessons learnt: don’t be put off by the word flutes, (at least not all the time) and ignore the ducks.