[Reviewed by: stark]
We couldn’t say Gydja is a prolific project as “Ár Var Alda” is its first full-length album in quite a while. So we can assume that the female artist, coming from New Zealand Abby Helasdottir prefers a meticulous approach to the matter of creation, a perfection over instinct, mind over spirit. Both approaches have their followers, personally I’m somewhere in the middle with a small deviation to the process based on instinct or intuition.
So the sound is polished to the core, it is obvious it took a long time to make it sound the way it actually is. “Ár Var Alda” is a quite essential dark ambient track referring to Norse mythology. All the titles are in Icelandic, but if you check the label’s (Winter Light) Bandcamp or just look inside the digipack, you’ll find the translations there and will realize that we enter the realm of giants, ancient gods and enormous trees (well, one tree, to be exact) connecting the universes.
How Abby builds the atmosphere on the album is also worth mentioning. It is “dark”, obviously, after all the genre obliges. But it’s not like you feel a threat of any kind. It is more like a mysterious journey over blue and grey endless fields and meadows where you’re a passive observer of some strange occurences above and below. Based on atmospheric synths and field recordings with the occasional use of female vocals, the artist skillfully paints the picture of the Northern landscapes in times before the light.
“Ár Var Alda” efficiently stimulates the imagination, so it works in the field that a decent dark ambient album should work in. I enjoy it pretty much, although now it may not be the best time to fully appreciate this record (the moment I write these words it’s almost 40°C outside), but wait until Autumn or Winter – then “Ár Var Alda” will spread its wings in all its glory.