For some incomprehensible reason I did miss Beckahesten’s 2020-debut Vattenhålens Dräpare, although Cyclic Law did kindly offer this material to me. I don’t know why, how, when, but I never got to download that great album. A shame, a pity, a stupid thing to occur.
To make it all up, I am now writing down my thoughts on this Swedish trio’s sophomore full-length album, Tydor, which got released less than half a year after that stunning first album (also via Cyclic Law), and shortly after the free single release of Midvinter, celebrating the darkest night and praising the lord of Frost.
Anyway, the project’s name comes from a folkloric entity, the bäckähast or bækhest, a kind of malicious shapeshifting water spirit that mainly appeared under the physical form of a white of grey horse, the ‘brook horse’. It has its roots in the Scandinavian mythology, with links to legends from Wales, Scotland and the islands north of Scotland, Ireland, and even the Lowlands, old Germania and England.
But this site does not deal with the content and history of legends, folklore and myths, but with Aural Art. So, Tydor… It is, as mentioned, the second album by this project, which consists of three members: Viktoria Rolandsdotter, Per Åhlund and Peo Bengtsson. Tydor consists of nine pieces (almost twice as much compared to the first album), having a total running time of almost fifty minutes. It got released digitally, of course (the link to the label’s Bandcamp page, to buy the digital version: see below), as well as on compact disc (a six-panel digipack, printed in 500 copies), and in two different vinyl editions, being 200 copies in ‘normal’ format (you know, the regular black LP), and a special edition LP of 100 copies with marbled print in red and black (both vinyl editions with printed inner sleeve, by the way). All versions (digital, LP and CD) come with the very same tracks (no bonus compositions in any case). The material was recorded on different locations and during different occasions in Norway and Sweden, inspired by the forces of Mother Nature and the spirits of ancient natural forces dwelling around.
Just like the debut Vattenhålens Dräpare or the astonishing free digital single Midvinter, Tydor is not just a collection of songs, yet rather a sonic adventure paying tribute to the roots of spiritual existence. It transcends the limitations of one single narrow-minded genre, for this is a gathering of different yet organically related subgenres with a few things in common: mystery, spirituality, rituality and ancient pride.
The opening song is called Bruddansen, and this one impresses as from the start. It opens somewhat ethereal, with a dreamy synth line and crystalline percussions, but soon darker shades of sound arrive. Ominous, gloomy keyboard melodies, glowing and spooky, float forth and back, covering the whole in a veil of mystery and wonder. After about a minute, different vocal timbres join. At first, those mystic whispers, reminding me of some same-minded acts (such as Níundi, Chthonia or 3Music). Then come melodic chants, being a fine-tuned lead voice at the foreground with a traditional, folksy one at the background. The latter has that characteristic tangle, referring to the origins of Nordic Folk Music. The track evolves, with that vocal interchange and those doomed drones, these mysterious percussions, and rather martial-shamanistic drum patterns. It crawls further, climbing up, diving deep then again, permanently teasing and twisting in between emotions of victorious pride, abyssal rituals and natural ambience.
Also the last track, Siaren, balances in between dreamlike passages, nostalgic Folk, darkened ambience and deep-droning gloominess. Here too both clean voices (with that crackling addition) and conjuring whispers (and additional clean male vocals as well)) are part of the sonic majesty. Rhythmic basses at the background, soft-industrialised samples and mesmerizing synths are gathered in an icy soundtrack, so deep, so tiny, so cold, and at the same time transcendental and meditative, even levitating.
Skogen then again is a short epic, built around melodious vocals, with that subtle, even fragile crackle in Viktoria’s voice. This is a mostly pure expression of integer and emotive Folk from ancient eras, quite minimal in expression, and therefor going deep, very deep.
Songs like Dunkel (an atrocious sonic translation for some dreadful nightmare-come-to-life you can’t escape from) or Dimman trespass the futile border with archaic genres like White Noise or Electroacoustics / Industrial, and do include spoken words in a haunting sense. Dimman initially gathers found sounds and field recordings, but the second half suddenly morphs into a warlike, epic hymn, with Viktoria’s melodious singing and harsh, militant drum patterns. Somehow I get overwhelmed by a hint of Martial Industrial alike elegance (Arditi, Sophia, Triarii, you know…). The latter, that suppressive presence of Martial Industrial, is even more represented in certain fragments of Uven, which has a huge Sophia-alike approach. Yet seen the fact that Per used to be part of Sophia, the evidence is quite logic. Long-stretched yet truly oppressive soundwaves, slowly-pounding tribal drum patterns, both perfidious (male) and esoteric (female) voices, and many additional sounds and percussions are canalised into a magic and hypnotic hymn.
Compositions like Bergatagen or Hernavåsen have a certain link to the likes of Wardruna, Nytt Land and Heilung, amongst others, yet still with a very own-faced character. Bergatagen, for example, also comes with weird, semi-industrialised noises, bizarre percussion-like additions and somewhat manipulated vocals, while Hernavåsen, then again, initially comes with the throat-singing voice of Heilung’s Kai Uwe Faust, giving this ultimately scarifying song an additional dimension of horrific grandeur. The latter is, by the way, a piece that also caresses the grimmest border of Minimal Death Industrial and apocalyptic Horror Ambient. The short follow-up Maran gets even deeper within spheres of horrific ambience and asphyxiating noises because of the semi-claustrophobic drones, baleful sound manipulation and menacing tang. At the very end, in glaring contrast, the melodic, even melancholic chanting of Viktoria leave the listener confused.
Tydor may need some listens before comprehending the whole adventure. Each time – and even after more than ten listens that’s still the case – you’ll discover new elements, uncover new details, for this album is full of subtly woven aspects. High / highly recommended!