Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hardanger (EP Review)

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hardanger (EP Review)

The combination of Einar Selvik and Ivar Bjørnson just makes sense. Both men hail from western Norway, raised near rugged mountains and arterial fjords of profound beauty. Sharing a background in Extreme Metal, both men have explored the realms of the traditional ethnic music endemic to their homeland, creating two full-length albums together and now adding a two-song EP to their repertoire. Released on November 5, 2021 through By Norse Music and entitled Hardanger, it is meant as a tribute to the region of the same name, and the Harudes people who eventually became modern-day Norwegians.

The title track features a vocal contribution from the increasingly prolific Lindy Fay-Hella, the feminine half to the vocal duo that is Wardruna. Selvik’s longtime collaborator places some bracing yodels over the sounds of haunting horns and drum-beats. As they do so effortlessly, the spirit of mysticism alive in the land is conjured effortlessly. The song pulses, somehow both whimsical and martial in nature.

“Heim Til Yggdrasil” is a reimagining of “Return To Yggdrasil, from the 2004 Ruun album by Bjornson’s ‘day job’ band Enslaved. Sedate in nature, it features the baritone voice of Grutle Kjellson, also of Enslaved, and Brornson’s lifelong companion in this journey of music. A swell of voices led by Selvik’s creates a nice crescendo, and like the title track both are over too quickly.

Selvik and Bjornson have hit on a gorgeous formula to tell the tales of their heritage, interpreting ancient mythology and imparting lost wisdom on an ever more anodyne modern world, and they do it with a startling authenticity which does not appear like it is going to wane anytime soon. Fans of progressive music, folk, metal, and world music should rejoice every time these incredible musicians enter the studio. Too bad there aren’t a few more tracks included on this one. Cryptic Rock gives the Hardanger EP 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Nicholas Franco
[email protected]

Nick has been writing for CrypticRock.com since October of 2013, covering mainly artists and albums from slightly more obscure corners of the musical realm. From interviews and live event reviews to retrospective analyses and album reviews for new releases, Nick enjoys sharing a fresh perspective from a fan's point of view. He is also counted on as an occasional editor and proofreader. In addition to his work with CrypticRock.com, Nick is a contributing writer at Metalinjection.net and SeaofTranquility.org.

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