Havdis – Novemberlys


[Reviewed by stark]

As a matter of fact, I have no idea why Havdis is rarely, or perhaps even never mentioned in the avant garde of contemporary ambient music, in end-of-the-year top album lists etc. Sure, sometimes someone will write a positive review, someone will post a sample on a social media, another person will comment, “wow, that’s beautiful <3” and will forget about it immediately, returning to the more popular and acknowledged projects. We can write about these projects, on Santa Sangre or other blogs or magazines, good for us, but real effort to promote lesser known, but by all means talented artists seems so futile these days. While mentioning a good ambient or dark ambient project it always comes down to these, say, thirty or forty projects, and the others can have their fifteen minutes at most. Check the early releases in the gterma roster and ask yourself, do you remember these extraordinary albums by Undara or Parikrama. Or Cryo Chamber: when was the last time you listened to Anatomia De Vanitats for that matter? It’s so difficult to push your way through these days, you have to be active, but not too active, because people may become tired of your music (as in Bvdub’s case). And you have to maintain a high level in your creations, which for many is a barrier impossible to cross. Or you have to get lucky and sign a deal with, say, Cyclic Law, because in such a case it’s also a matter of brand. And even this isn’t always a guarantee of success (who among you have thought about Otavan Veret at least once during the last month or two?). I think that even in this musical niche the times when you could release one or two albums that would be remembered for years – like The Protagonist, R|A|A|N or Kerovnian, limited only to the dark ambient genre – are long gone.

And now we have Havdis, the third album of which some people will buy, some of them will love it, but mostly with a short-term kind of love that can be rather compared to an enthrallment, when you meet a beautiful girl, you want to go to bed with her, you manage to do it and the sex is great, just like the next time… and the next. But after a while you realize that this is not the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, that you prefer the girl you grew up with, your long time neighbor or schoolmate. And that’s completely natural, I don’t deny it; but music is not a girl, it’s a piece of art that should stay with you longer, that has deeper sense and meaning that a few minutes of pleasure, and it makes me very sad when projects like Havdis emerge from non-existence in the listener’s consciousness, offer some nice moments and then again become lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Just a few words about “Novemberlys” (“November Light”, right?). The musician still explores the desolate Northern landscapes, where elements clash with each other and it’s always wind and water who win this battle. This recording is closer to “Nightbreeze” rather than “The Hidden Islands”, which was more dense and intense. The synth passages lead the way, sometimes accompanied by humid field recordings. Havdis’ music however is not just marked by atmospheric drones, because there are some simple but really catchy melodies scattered all over most of the tracks. But what’s most important, at least to me personally, is the way the artist combines light and darkness. Not many artists try to do it, most of them prefer to stick with one shade of emotions, but even those who do don’t always succeed in getting the proper effect. To a certain degree it’s a lighter and less minimal version of what Northaunt offers on his last two full length albums. Similar moods, desolation, with no sign of human presence within a radius of a hundred kilometers; just snow, mountains, water and the majestic fjords. Can’t say much more without repeating what I already wrote in my “Nightbreeze” review or what my friend VITRIOL had to say on the occasion of our “The Hidden Islands” presentation. Havdis dwells within the style he has chosen in the beginning of his musical journey and I wouldn’t say he’s closer to perfection. He already reached in on “The Hidden Islands” and now he’s just sculpting it, painting another enchanting image in which you’ll drown only if you’d give it a chance, more than once or twice.

I know it’s “just” Havdis, a name that doesn’t have a clout, and from my experience maybe twenty or thirty people will click on this link, more or less attracted by the name. And I feel very sad about it, but if one person at least will love this album for a longer period of time, not exactly because of this review, but simply because he or she feels like it, this sadness of mine will break a little.

gterma, gterma044
CD 2016

2 responses to “Havdis – Novemberlys

  1. Thanks for the review! For me, Havdis is actually my most favourite producer of that slow freezing arctic drone / ambient genre. Where can I download the new album?

    • Thank you. There’s no digital version of the album, as gterma label releases CD only. You can check on various distros, databloem.com for example.

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