Artist: Kaelan Mikla
Title: Undir Koldum Nordurljosum
Genre: Darkwave / Goth / Dark Pop / Mist Music / Post Punk
Release Date: 15th October 2021
Label: Artoffact Records
Do you know that it will be 10 years in 2023 that KAELAN MIKLA took part in a poetry competition that changed their lives forever? At this point it is eight years since that time and they’ve released numerous singles and three albums, toured the US of A and Europe, been endorsed by Sir Robert Smith of THE CURE and played at his Meltdown Festival. They’ve also played with the likes of PLACEBO and ALCEST. And in that time their music has been an instinctual and authentic depiction of their own inner world and how it links into the surroundings that have informed their creativity since childhood. Their music is them and they are the music. Both are locked together in a dance like an Icelandic landscape doing the waltz with an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. And it’s all organic. As I have alluded to in other reviews of other artists, the organic nature of the creative process informs the style and not the other way around. If these women have to be pigeonholed into a style then it is incidental!
‘Undir Koldum Nordurljosum’ (Under The Cold Northern Lights) is KAELAN MIKLA’s 4th album and after a few listens I can say that the power of the three Volva is still as strong as ever. The sound and vibe is true to form but it’s been refined. Their recipe for success is to know what works, what feels right, to go with the instincts. The mystical themes are here in abundance. The mistiness, dappled and low lighting is here also and you are taken on a journey through soundscapes that are repetitive but don’t seem to repeat or get boring. It’s the same but thoroughly different! I love ‘Solstodur’ with its ear splitting screams that are both eerie and pained. The bass meanders, the mistiness hangs and the vocal lolls through this.
‘Orlogin’ again with a simple bass line that changes octave to insinuate and emphasise, and the vocal echoes SIOUXIE SIOUX fleetingly. ‘Halastjarnan’ is a fine track that harks back to the early 80s with its XMAL DEUTSCHLAND allusions. It reminds me of the track ‘Mondlicht’ from the album ‘Tocsin’ from 1984. That is a fine track and so is this! The next track is very airy, it has a breathiness to it, husky if you will whilst at the same time sounding like early THE CURE. It’s like they have got the chiaroscuro vibe down to a tee here. From the feet down it’s all dark and from the knees up its lighter with a blanket of mist hovering around knee height to delineate between the two. There’s a charming warmth too. I’m laying on a cannabis pillow, floating away... I’m not sure about the abrupt halt though. Maybe a fade out would have been better?
‘Sirenur’ floats. It’s gauzy and gossamer and it floats on a breezy of hazy air into the next track which uses synth bass to punch itself into the canvas whilst ‘Stormurinn’ continues on a whimsical theme, again breezy, the simple bass line pulls things along, images of logs floating down river present themselves to my mind’s eye. Flutes elevate the track up onto another plane before falling into the river, urgent in its torrents. Again I’m not sure about the ending… But then the next track starts off with more flutes. Then the linking between the tracks makes sense. ‘Oskasteinar’ whispers! The stones whisper their wishes in a seductive honeyed tone, coaxing me to make them real. The doors are slowly opening to that possibility as the ghostly Norns gesticulate and gyrate, light flashing from their black eyes!
We are coming to the end of the album now. ‘Hvitir Sandar’ is a place you go to get away from it all and then there’s the ocean beyond which once traversed takes you somewhere else. Or you can choose to travel nowhere and everywhere without going anywhere. That’s what this track does to me. Finally, ‘Saman’ (Together) what does that mean to you? Is it getting your shit together? Is it being with a person or persons that make you feel good, complete? Is it both or is it one or the other? Whatever, ‘Saman’ leaves me with a satisfied veneer of contentment.
In summary, this is an evolution from the previous albums. It’s less dark but by no means less mystical and dream-like. Images still come to life, the ones of your own making and ones created for you, both are vivid. I sense more polish and confidence here but the polish is more of a bees wax than a manmade Industrial sheen, so it’s still organic and real! It’s not an album I’d throw off my CD shelf! If you like walking in the woods or a forest on your lonesome with just the rustle of leaves, the chirps of birds and the smell of moss for company I’d recommend taking a flask of coffee, some ham sandwiches, a few apples or bananas and a copy of ‘Undir Koldum Nordurljosum’.
I thank you!
01. Svort Augu (Black Eyes)
02. Solstoður (Solstice)
03. Orlogin (Fate)
04. Halastjarnan (The Comet)
05. Osynileg (Invisible)
06. Siren (Sirens)
07. Stormurinn (The Storm)
08. Oskasteinar (Wish Stones)
09. Hvitar Sandar (White Sands) featuring Alcest
10. Saman (Together)
Margret Rosa – Bass
Laufey Soffia – Vocals
Solveig Matthildur – Keyboards
https://www.kaelanmikla.com / https://kaelanmikla.bandcamp.com
Total: 9 / 10