We try to write about a wide range of musical styles and genres, And whilst I don’t like categorising artists really, I think we all do it because it helps guide listeners in what they might like, whether it be electro pop, prog rock or neo classical - or one of the 1000 categories in between. Sturle Dagsland however happily sits alone in a category that we should never even try defining. It’s just Sturle Dagsland.
We’ve written about him before and the reaction was quite interesting, most notably because I got a message from an musician who once studied with Sturle. Their view was quite simple. Sturle Dagsland is a genius.
His debut self titled is undoubtedly proof of that genius, but then how you define what that means becomes irrelevant when considering Sturle Dagsland anyway, because this is an artist where none of the normal rules or definitions apply.
He’s been ‘developing’ his unique sound for a few years, touring across the world from Shanghai to New York, performing at festivals such as SXSW and Airwaves, and at a huge variety of different venues including (according to the press notes) ‘a sex party in Brighton’. To be clear I’ve never had the chance to see him live, but watched some of his live performances on YouTube and they are certainly mesmerising, bewildering, intense, beautiful, not so beautiful and so many other things too.
But actually some of those emotions are the type of things you would only probably experience in a live performance, which is why his debut album is just so impressive, because it still delivers those extremes. It’s certainly uncompromising in its approach, dark at times, almost uncomfortably so, but it’s only by getting through the dark moments that we’re able to experience the most beautiful, celestial, ethereal sections that take us somewhere else entirely.
All of this is achieved through use of a list of musical Instruments too extraordinary to mention. I can imagine him spending years travelling the world, overcoming dark forces to find and rescue some of these fabulous creations, as if in a Harry Potter style quest. For sure the Armenian Duduk has been featured on these pages before, but not the ‘guzheng’ or the ‘mbira’, and it all adds to the extraordinary cacophony.
And that’s pretty much all I can say, because the album itself just has to be listened to. I can’t decipher or interpret every track, and nor do I want to try. I just hope you’ll all listen, because it is fascinating, spellbinding and of course totally original.