Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Living, breathing Burzum

Varg Vikernes is a busy man. He got out of prison in 2009 and has since released 3 new Burzum albums, plus an album of re-recorded old songs. This much is fact. Whether these new albums are any good, however, is a matter of opinion.

Lots of people are annoyed because they don't sound like the good old Burzum records of the early 90s. But what do you expect? It's not a twenty-something guy making the records anymore, and, furthermore, there was a 15 year gap between albums (not counting the two ambient records, of course), during which the man sat in prison – he was not cryogenically frozen and didn't just pick up where he left off. Had Vikernes been able to write and record albums throughout this time – and at the pace he was, and now is again, releasing them – roughly one per year – we would have something like 20 Burzum albums by which to judge the musical evolution at this point.

So, yes, new Burzum isn't old Burzum, that much is obvious, but to me at least, the new albums also have their well-deserved place in the universe of music. They just fit a different mood than the old ones.

And now, to sum up, a few words about the latest Burzum offering, Umskiptar. Entirely devoid of faster tracks and based on heavy repetition and layered guitars, the album is at the core of what kind of music Vikernes does well – at least in my opinion. It's not the least bit in your face, but rather lulls the listener into a trance (which is not a new trick in Vikernes's book). Now, if I could only understand the lyrics, which are taken from the Völuspá, a poem written in Old Norse.

Note that I dislike some of Vikernes's opinions, but luckily he has managed to keep them out of his music, which, incidentally, I tend to like.

And next time it's time for another pick of the week, don't you think?

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