Skuggsjá stands as a monumental creation, a musical tapestry woven by the gifted hands of Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik. This masterpiece was harmoniously arranged and performed by their respectiv and iconic bands, Enslaved and Wardruna.
The genesis of Skuggsjá traces back to its inception as a distinguished concert piece, celebrating the bicentennial of the revered Norwegian Constitution. Its debut illuminated the stage of the Eidsivablot festival in Eidsvoll in September 2014 – a symbolic location where the pillars of the constitution were etched into history.
From Musical Piece To Album
Soon after its poignant premiere, Skuggsjá’s aura was recognized, leading it to be spotlighted as a headlining act at the landmark 20th edition of the Roadburn Festival in 2015.
Driven by a compelling urge to share Skuggsjá with a vast horizon of listeners, Bjørnson and Selvik embarked on a journey to immortalize their creation. This dedication culminated in recording the piece in all its awe-inspiring entirety, ensuring its melodies and tales would resonate across time and borders.
The album «Skuggsjá» was released in 2016 and features 10 tracks and 2 bonustracks.
Skuggsjá: Bridging Norway’s Past and Present Through Music
«Skuggsjá», derived from the Norse term for ‘mirror’ or ‘reflection’, is more than just a musical piece—it’s a statement. It positions harder music not only as a commentary on Norway’s democracy in 2014 but also as a proud emblem of the country’s rich musical heritage, asserting its standing as Norway’s paramount cultural ambassador.
Through the eloquent fusion of metal and an array of ancient Scandinavian instruments, combined with poetic verses in both Norse and Norwegian, Skuggsjá weaves a narrative that reaches back into Norway’s storied past. This amalgamation serves as a reminder of the nation’s deep-rooted traditions while casting a reflection on its contemporary identity. With this, Skuggsjá offers both a historical journey and a mirror to the soul of Norway—a harmonious blend of yesterday and today.
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Skuggsjá – track titles
- Intro: Ull Kjem – 02:17
- Skuggsjá – 06:37
- Makta Og Vanæra, For All Tid – 10:28
- Tore Hund – 03:46
- Rop Fra Røynda – Mælt Fra Minne – 05:43
- Skuggeslåtten – 06:44
- Kvervandi – 06:26
- Vitkispá – 05:21
- Bøn Om Ending, Bøn Om Byrjing – 10:32
- Outro: Ull Gjekk – 02:12
- Skaldens Song Til Tore Hund (Bonus Track) – 03:01
- Quantum Pasts (Bonus Track) – 06:26
Ivar Bjørnson: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Einar Selvik: vocals, taglharpa, Kravik-lyre, goat-horn, birch-bark lure, bone-flute, percussion, electronics
Grutle Kjellson: vocals
Lindy-Fay Hella: vocals
Eilif Gundersen: birch bark lure
Olav L. Mjelva: Harding fiddle
Cato Bekkevold: drums
Release date: 11 March 2016
Label: Season of Mist
Skuggsjá: A Musical Odyssey
Spanning over an hour, Skuggsjá captivates listeners with 10 main tracks, complemented by 2 bonus offerings. This cohesive musical tapestry is best absorbed in a singular, uninterrupted listening session, where its power, energy, and emotion can be fully appreciated.
1. Intro: Ull Kjem: A Gentle Prelude
Opening with soft guitar strums and rhythmic drum beats, «Ull Kjem» offers a soothing initiation, setting the stage for the eponymous track, «Skuggsjá.»
2. Skuggsjá: A Fluid Transition
The title track seamlessly carries forward the calm ambiance, introducing traditional folk instruments like the flute. As the tempo gradually increases, the vocals enhance the depth of the song, crescendoing to an intense finale.
3. Makta Og Vanæra, for all tid: A Metallic Resonance
Running for over 10 minutes, this track initially sets a contemplative tone. However, as it unfolds, a heavier, black-metal essence dominates, interspersed with melodious choruses offering brief moments of serenity.
4. Tore Hund: Folklore Fusion
Distinctly folk in its essence, «Tore Hund» beautifully amalgamates varied cultural sounds, employing a diverse range of instruments, capturing the album’s spirit.
5. Rop Frå Røynda – Mælt Frå Minne: Atmospheric Allure
Immersive from the outset, this track mirrors its predecessor in its cultural and natural nuances, offering listeners a distinctive ambiance.
6. Skuggeslåtten: Metal Meets Melody
An instrumental delight, «Skuggeslåtten» strikes a balance between its metal undertones and the playful rhythms of the preceding tracks.
7. Kvervandi: Consistent Craftsmanship
Seventh in line, «Kvervandi» sustains the album’s mellifluous charm, showcasing impeccable musical proficiency.
8. Vitkispá: Energetic Euphony
Although not speedy, «Vitkispa» exudes an energy that’s almost infectious, hinting at dance-inducing beats.
9. Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing: Majestic Melodies
Almost 10 minutes long, this penultimate track is grander and more deliberate in its pacing. It paves the way for the album’s conclusion, spotlighting some of the record’s most memorable moments.
10. Outro: Ull Gjekk: A Harmonious Conclusion
Echoing the nuances of the opening track, «Ull Gjekk» offers listeners a sense of completion, letting the album gracefully come full circle.
Crafted by masterful artists, Skuggsjá brilliantly melds diverse musical elements. Its progression from subtle beginnings to powerful crescendos, all the while staying true to its essence, will undoubtedly appeal to its creators’ fans and admirers.
Some More History
Before delving deeper into Skuggsjá’s historical context, it’s important to recognize foundational literary works that have played a pivotal role in shaping Norway’s cultural identity. Enter «Kongespeilet» (known in Old Norse as Konungs skuggsiá and in Latin as Speculum regale).
Dating back to the mid-13th century, this «prince’s mirror» is a didactic and philosophical treatise penned during the reign of Håkon Håkonsson between 1250 and 1260. It serves as a guide, offering insights into kingly power, the intricacies of nature, theological perspectives, and even tangible advice on behavior, speech, and attire.
Rather than focusing on inner morality or disposition, Kongespeilet emphasizes the importance of external actions that can be learned and practiced. Often touted as the sole monumental work from Norway’s medieval era, it stands distinct in a sea of Norse literature predominantly authored in Iceland, suggesting that its likely author was a Norwegian.
Drawing a parallel, Skuggsjá, in its essence, seeks to merge the old with the new, much like Kongespeilet did in its time, highlighting the rich tapestry of Norway’s past while connecting it to contemporary contexts.
Continuing on the journey of Kongespeilet’s significance, it was originally penned as an educational manual for the sons of King Håkon Håkonsson. Its influence did not stop with personal tuition, however. The teachings and principles laid out in the text also played a crucial role in shaping the legislative directions of Magnus Lagabøte.
Though, as the title might suggest, Kongespeilet is specifically tailored as a guidebook for the upbringing of a prince, it possesses a universality in its message. As elucidated in the foreword, it is crafted «for all and serves lawful purposes just like a commons.»
This timeless allure highlights its profound influence on Norwegian society. Similarly, Skuggsjá seeks to connect and enlighten a broader audience about Norway’s rich heritage.