This is a fine collection of songs for the dark, close Northern English winter's night and it's that sort of night as I write this after my third listen. A drink to hand, eyes closed and it's easy to fall into the multiple layers of each song.
The album starts well with a quiet lead into 'Feed the Fire', an appropriate title as we start with smoky wisps that build into the first small flames of what is to come.
The third song -' Time of the Season '- is the lead vehicle for the album and by now the fire is established and warming all over. It's at this point that drinks should be placed down because there is a serious danger of swirling. I felt an urge to wear long flowing clothes and spin with my arms out wide as the vocals become more insistent, shrill but quite content.
Without a break the album continues in a swaying, mysterious and actually quite content sounding manner. 'Slow and Quiet' plays like a Bond theme, not so much slow and quiet as steady and dramatic.
'Julingvallen' is a stretching sound landscape and possessors of Sigur Ros albums may not need any more such music in their collection, but I'm loving it.
'Machines' continues with the dreamy vibe, this time with secondary vocals resembling centuries old choral works and take us further back from gothic to classical or renaissance period.
And the fire gradually fades at the end of the final song - 'Fine Horsemen'. A build up of drums takes over from a less swirly start before gradually winding down to a fine, relaxing finish.
Cease swirling, take up the drink once more and contemplate.
This is a beautiful album, the third from the Swedish artist. To try and attach gothic, hippy, new age or other labels seems unfair but all are appropriate. The nature of the vocals leave the lyrics hard to follow but it's the atmosphere that is the essence here, a cold and dark beauty with pure Scandinavian satisfaction.