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Ljungblut: Villa Carlotta 5959

Now six albums old, Ljungblut are a melancholy Norwegian secret that should, if Villa Carlotta 5959 is anything to go by, be better known. The third in a trilogy of Norwegian language albums (not that I’ve heard the preceding two), this latest outing is a downbeat, but at times uplifting, foray that taps nicely into the mood that the likes of Riverside, Anathema and many others are now beginning to bring into the mainstream (well, by prog terms anyway). Keeping everything considered and condensed, the opening trio of “Hasselblad”, “Oktober” and “Til Warszawa” will either make or break you. Similar in pace, moody in tone and deep in theme, this is not a journey for the timid, but it is one for those who can take their dreamscapes created in a thoughtful and introspective manner. There is also a deep seated melody that runs through all of these cuts and those elsewhere and while, for me, the pace could undoubtedly be more varied from song to song, if the intention is to make an uncompromising statement, there’s no doubt that’s exactly what’s been done.

Guitarist Dan Heide does occasionally swoop in to lift the likes of “235” onto a different plain, while “Aldri Helt Stille” provides a slightly Visage like pop aside that you might not have anticipated and yet even here don’t expect it to come replete with anything other than a slow beat and inner pain soaked motif. Possibly that step is taken too far on “Himmelen Som Vet”, which strips things down even further, but in such a stark setting, arguably what’s missing is the release that reveals the light at the end of a remarkably gloomy tunnel. That is undoubtedly this outfit’s intended atmosphere, and with singer Kim Ljung (who also plays keys) providing a breathy whisper of vocals, it will either lift you and take you on this band’s journey, or resolutely hold you at arm’s length. Something that possibly depends as much on what baggage you bring to this album, rather than what these songs allow you to accept.

With headphones on and the lights down, “Ohnesorg” is a heady experience indeed and the short, closing “Min Krig” likewise. However that does reveal the issue here and that may be that Villa Carlotta 5959 is a very singular album that will only fit a certain time and a certain mind set. Get that right and this is a moving set of songs.

Track Listing
1. Hasselblad
2. Oktober
3. Til Warszawa
4. 235
5. Superga
6. Diamant
7. Himmelen som vet
8. Ohnesorg
9. Aldri helt stille
10. Min Krig

Added: February 24th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Villa Carlotta 5959 @ bandcamp
Hits: 526
Language: english

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