Stíne Norse - 'The Whale' EP
I need you all to do me a favour.
I realise our lives are all pretty busy, we rush from one appointment to another, from work to social engagements, family errands, we fill the gaps with social media obsessions and 24 hour news. But we don't ask for much at Nordic Music Review, no subscriptions, no adverts to pollute your vision (erm... yet), but we're asking just for one thing today. Just be still for 16 minutes. Feel free to make yourself a cup of tea (or if it's after 8pm we'll allow you a wine or beer...) but then just sit down, relax and allow yourself to get totally absorbed by the new Stíne Norse EP 'The Whale'.
Sometimes it actually horrifies me to think that if I wasn't editing and writing for Nordic Music Review that I might simply miss out on music such as this. Because yes it is different to many other releases, it doesn't plead or beg for attention, it won't be on posters or featured on your local radio station, but it is totally beautiful.
I'm in danger of writing way too much already, so just a quick background. Stíne Norse originates from Bergen (of course), and via Australia and Manchester arrived in London where she eventually joined forces with 3 other musicians (Fabrizio, Loris and Lewis), with a wide variety of musical influences. Her music is a gentle, ambient folk influenced sound which is based around the premise that 'less is more', it's as if each note and noise is only allowed if it really makes a contribution to the overall song. The vocals are soft, beautiful but always understated - and the effect of this subtle instrumentation and vocals creates that feeling you must be still, and that you must listen. Please.
There are 4 official songs (and a charming 5th at the end of 'Blue Ridge'). 'November 9th' sets the tone, those individual notes that open the track serve as a request for silence, and it takes well over a minute before the the subtlest of rhythms gently crescendos and vocals are added - a delicate melody, that sets out another feature of Stíne Norse's writing - this is music written around poems, not words written to fit into the music. 'Don't Fall' was the first track I heard, and it's a totally captivating song, just listen to the 'sounds' in that first 26 seconds of introduction, it has shades of '1900', and the piano solemnly carries the music forward with a melancholy precision. I want to know more about 'Glittering Gold on Boundary Road', sometimes the vocals are just so understated and soft that my ears don't quite catch the full meaning of the lyrics, but the fact that it draws me in so closely shows how absorbed I am. 'Blue Ridge' has particularly lovely harmonies, a hymnal quality to it, and it is totally stripped back - there is simply nothing else that will allow you to be distracted.
'The Whale' is a simply lovely EP. Yes it undeniably feels sad at times, and no you probably won't be using it on your latest pumping Gym Playlist, but I just feel i can relate to it, I can engage with the journeys of the musicians, the long road the EP has travelled, and I love the way the music just slowly sweeps around my house. So please just be still for a while, and allow yourself to be at peace with Stíne Norse and 'The Whale'.