Friday, 11 January 2013

Review: Ildjarn - "Landscapes"

From an album that I consider to be the highlight of the genre, I now move to one that is one of the most challenging, and yet in many ways is the archetype of Nature-themed synth music.

A sprawling double-album of 22 untitled tracks, giving over 2 hours of music, in many ways, the concept and format of this album remind me in of another ambient classic: Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works 2" -- the two discs, the vast number of anonymous tracks with no titular reference point, all create a similar feel of disorientation. Musical similarities are fleeting, however; there is none of Aphex's playfully disturbing headfuckery here.

That being said, there is not much that is dark here either. Unlike other examples of the genre, there is no "gothic" brooding mysticism. The music here is less romantic and melodic than the rather more instantly accessible music on the Paysage d'Hiver album previously reviewed. The tracks are merely representations of sparse landscapes: static, content just to declare that they exist, no more, no less, rather like the mountains themselves. Structures are cyclic and non-developing, re-enforcing the sparse, static feel of the landscape. Simple chord progressions and melodies wander and repeat themselves. With a few exceptions, the tracks all utilise more or less the same sound, a classic synthesizer sound that isn't trying to pretend to be anything else.

"Landscapes" is perhaps best suited to listening whilst actually in the landscape itself, experiencing the vista first hand, rather than at home trying to conjure an atmosphere through evocative music. That is best left for other, more accessible albums.


  1. Good review, man. I agree with your assessment of it being mostly static representations of nature as it is, without any sort of romanticism or human interpretation. It seems to capture the austere otherness of nature almost completely, which makes it pretty profound but difficult to appreciate.

  2. Thanks Andrew. Strangely, it's an album I only actually discovered fairly recently, and at first I really didn't like it (at the time I was more in the mood for the more romantic side of the genre). However its sparseness has really grown on me, and I think in its own way it is a masterpiece of the genre.

  3. sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who prefers landscapes to hardangervidda. I feel like its so much more powerful, austere as fuck yeah, but it's really underrated considering how much power it has. Never played it all the way through though.