Ildjarn – Hardangervidda Part I (2002)


“Hardangervidda is a mountain plateau (“vidde” in Norwegian) in central southern Norway, covering parts of the counties of Buskerud, Hordaland and Telemark. It is the largest plateau of its kind in Europe, with a cold year-round alpine climate, and one of Norway’s largest glaciers, Hardangerjøkulen, is situated here”


A collaboration with countryman Nidhogg, Ildjarn‘s Hardangervidda is an immersive, ambient experience that creates vivid and completely organic vistas of the natural beauty of their native Norway. Shorn of the unbelievably primitive trimmings of its past, Ildjarn yet hearkens back to the spirit innate in all great black metal, capturing the unpremeditated awe felt in the presence of something far greater than the self. Hardangervidda is an intensely cleansing journey above all else, wringing the soul, if such a thing exists, of all pretensions and material considerations, and birthing it anew in the primordial soup of consciousness from which it first sprang. The ideal way to listen to this recording would of course be in the company of the wild and in solitude but even otherwise, Hardangervidda is startling in its ability to transport the listener to places they may have never visited, truly demonstrating the power of the creative imagination come to life.


Each song has a titular denomination signifying the time of day and the sights that unravel over the course of one’s trek through its hours. Roving streams of homophonic, pastoral melodies are played on keyboard, building up to a steady, linear crescendo like the beating of a heart in isolation, before subsiding until the next assault on the senses. While keyboard parts follow a similarly somber, grand narrative for the greater part of the album, there are a couple of short pieces symbolizing the playful aspect present in nature; light tribal percussive bass comes to mimic the frantic footfalls of ‘The Fleeing Herd’ while a harried violin-like string accompaniment invokes the timidly effervescent stoat of ‘The Ermine’. While compositions – and these are compositions in the real sense of the word – like ‘Sunset’ and ‘Night’ are suitably melancholic in contemplation, Hardangervidda is predominantly an optimistic album, placing its faith in the regenerative qualities of nature and in life. The latter of the two songs is the most ambitious on the record, using opposing melodies and effects to create a dark, pensive fabric steeped in clashing emotions, much like the lonely time of day it refers to. A time to retrospect and to purge, but also to savour and to hope; the present will be past and tomorrow begins soon.


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