Hornorkesterets first studio album, «Jehovas vinter» is out now on vinyl and streaming services. This instrumental album, a collection of original compositions written by the group and recorded over three days in June 2014, takes the listener to a dark and mysterious folk territory. The melodies are carried on the orchestra’s custom-made stringed antler instruments, and propelled by percussion including tree stumps, timpani, toms, and bells.
After twenty years in the ice, Hornorkesteret has developed a strange and fractured soundscape that is very much their own. The sounds of the stringed reindeer antlers often give listeners associations to voices, whispering winds, animal calls and the deep roar of nature. Hornorkesteret are reimagining the songs of our ancestors, mixing them with elements of rock, Scandinavian folk and popular music, creating a deeply fascinating musical expression. «Jehovas vinter» is more rhythmic and melodic than earlier releases, but every note from Hornorkesteret’s primitive instruments is still an attack on the equal-tempered scale.
Hornorkesteret performed the full album on November 10th at the NyMusikk festival Høstriss in Moss, Norway, and the record was released on vinyl and streaming services on December 13th 2019. «Jehovas vinter» follows the 2011 anthology of live and studio efforts «Fjær og Jern» (Feathers and Iron), and a number of EP, CDR and cassette releases. «Fjær og jern» received praise from composers and music afficionados including David Tibet (Current 93) and Gylve Fenris Nagell (Darkthrone).
Said about «Jehovas vinter»:
“The melancholia and dissonance of Hornorkesteret makes me think of some kind of undead New Orleans marching band at a funeral (“Jehovas vinter”), while songs like “Den sorgfulle sjaman” conjures images of a bunch of psychotic laplanders…In other words, very strange, very disturbing, and very cool.»
«This is no exaggeration: Hornorkesteret takes longer to record a new album than Nansen spent on his polar expeditions. But it is worth sleeping in a tent for, as the group show themselves from a new side here. After more than 20 years of wind-twisted drones from the darkest winter, Hornorkesteret appear almost danceable and cheerful on this new record. Arctic hunger and depression has mutated into a moss-grown, heathen ur-funk»
“Instead of the normal digest of drones and tones, here we have the sombre yet pleasant tones of what sounds like a joyous mid-winter festival in the village (…) The strings are sawed and sing and the percussion is quite tribal at times. Maybe there is a touch of gothic to it, a folk noir element, but none of that was much in perhaps in the way of the end result. A most unlikely record to be liked by me, and yet I do like it very much.“
Frans de Waard in Vital Weekly nr. 1214, (click for full review)
The album title «Jehovas vinter» (Jehova’s Winter) is a wordplay, pointing at the immense force of winter which humans and animals of the North have to endure. «Slumpelukko» is a polonaise from the Stone Age, «Den sorgfulle sjaman» (The Sorrowful Shaman) is melodic drones from the depths of mind, «Maries vals» (Marie’s Waltz) is a playful broken waltz, «Skogstur» (In the Forest) rounds up side A with a trip into prehistoric times. The title track «Jehovas vinter» includes a mandolin groove and maraccas, «Spekulasi» is a quick dance song, «Fossegrimen» is a march towards the waterfall for a rendezvous with “Fossegrimen” or «Nøkken», a nordic mythological figure and dangerous-magical fiddler that resides in waterfalls. The observant listener will find many references to music history and popular culture in both the songs and the album cover art.
Musicians on «Jehovas vinter» are: Jonas Qvale, Erlend Lien, Magne Rudjord, Jan Krey and Torbjørn Benjaminsen on stringed antler instruments, and Thomas Oxem on timpani, drums and percussion. Field recordings by Jonas Qvale. The music is written by Jonas Qvale and Hornorkesteret. The record is produced by Jonas Qvale and Thomas Oxem. Recording and mixing by Thomas Oxem. Mastered by Christian Obermayer at Strype Audio. The album cover is designed by and includes original paintings by Jonas Qvale.
The first single from the album comes in the form of a youtube video, “Den sorgfulle sjaman”: