Myrkur, meaning “darkness” in Icelandic, is the moniker for Amalie Bruun, a Danish composer and multi-instrumentalist. Folkesange, released through Relapse Records on March 20, sees the Danish musician go in a more folk direction than she did on M and Mareridt.
While elements of pop and black metal found on previous releases still appear on Folkesange, Myrkur’s latest release is noteworthy in that it features a wide range of instruments and arrangements found in traditional, Scandinavian folk music. The resulting record evokes an old-world style in ways that are both intimate, epic, and very beautiful.
Folkesange opens with “Ella,” an atmospheric tune with pastoral vocals. Serene singing, minimal drumming, and strings lull listeners, creating a mood that is of another time and place.
“Fager som en Ros” features the tagelharpa, a bowed lyre instrument. Like something out of the movie Midsommar, “Fager som en Ros” offers a darkly cinematic vibe to the album. “Leaves of Yggdrasil,” with a title that references the mythological tree of life, features a lyre. The tranquil singing on this song gives this tune a wintery vibe, while the slow piano evokes pop elements.
According to a video released by Bruun, “Ramund” is a traditional Danish folk song dating back to the 1600s. The song is also noteworthy in that it features the nyckelharpa, a Scandinavian traditional stringed instrument. “Tor i Helheim” offers high chanting with clear vocals. According to Bruun, the singing style found on this track known as kulning, a Scandinavian herd call. Bruun also explains this type of singing was also used as protection to ward off predators, or attract cattle.
Folkesange is a soothing album that lulls listeners, especially towards the end of it. Songs like “House Carpenter” convey mystical element, while “Reiar” sounds like a lullaby with chanting, choral elements. The opening of “Gudernes Vilje” is brilliant in the way Myrkur creates an orchestral feeling with singing and vocals. “Vinter,” the last song on the album, sounds like another lullaby, with piano and soft singing. Folkesange is a cozy record that calls to mind the coziness and mood of hygge, offering warmth and comfort to listeners.