Álfheimr – What Allows Us To Endure

This is what post-rock is supposed to be. You have your rock sensibilities, you can go with some riffs if you want to. Not catchy enough? You can write a chorus. Go back to the key note, finish the song. You can do a dozen of these and there you have it, a rock album. Add one thing or another, you have your indie, ska, punk, metal or whatever. But if you want to do something beautiful that goes outside the scope of rock and all you have is your rock background, there you have your post-rock. This is what happens with this guy, and he really has done something beautiful, but keeping the rock feel that makes it endearing to people who aren’t really into classical, jazz etc. The beauty and power of the music this guy makes is so intense, he just might be the best bandcamp/soundcloud act right now. But let’s go by parts.

What you have with this album is this pure beauty that many try to create and can’t really pull off. Working with vague melodies and loose, open chord progressions isn’t as easy as it seems.

The recurring style is that of the slow build-up, some dramatic stops or slow-downs, and then a slow build-down. In the first few tracks there is singing, but I can’t really tell what he is saying, which comes out as a bit of a Sigur Rós influence. The perils here are: adding bits and pieces that don’t really work well, either for excess or for not delivering a good progression, and taking too much time between one variation and the other. I never sensed any of the two happening. New stuff comes and goes, either gentle or distorted and dramatic, but never misplaced, never distasteful. You need to have a very sharp ear and very well-tuned taste to keep your game up for so long, and the tracks last from 6 minutes upward.

It does feel like ambient at some points, but don’t worry, it’s not really boring, though it’s for people who want to lean back and appreciate music. As a rule of thumb, if you can digest Sigur Rós, you can digest this as well.

A passing mention to the apparent fact that it’s a concept album. Maybe I am not imaginative enough to sense the “loss & inheritance” in an instrumental song, but I think the titles are there to guide the emotional sense of the music, not necessarily to be conveyed by the melody, which is between very difficult and arguably impossible. Just reading the titles one by one though, that’s so pretty and thoughtful. The best would be “beauty & adornment”, “loss & inheritance” and “distance & circumstance”, and then the last title is a killer. What I mean is, the title progression itself is flawless and conveys a thought and emotion quite similar to the album itself. It’s all crafted with art, I feel grateful to have been freely offered this by this person I have never met.

I can’t recommend this album enough and I will certainly review some of his other stuff soon (not so soon that this might feel like an Álfheimr fanclub though), slowly coming to the point when I can listen to his new soundcloud songs on the acoustic guitar, which gain from his experience with post-rock and brings it back to common people alternative rock, hopefully carrying along all this beauty.

-Carpeaux

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