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Northaunt - Istid I-II (2015) - Review

Band: Northaunt
Album: Istid I-II
Release date: 13 January 2015
Label: Cyclic Law

01. Istid
02. Endless Ice
03. Boreal
04. The Unseen Earth
05. Mammoth
06. Moraine
07. Extinction Event
08. Cold Streams

It has been a while since I reviewed for the last time any of dark ambient releases, but Northaunt's new double album certainly got my attention. Nine long years have passed since the seminal album named Horizons by this Norwegian one-man act. The man behind Northaunt is Hærleif Langås, an artist who is constantly tapping into the singular northern landscapes of his native country for inspiration, and the soundscapes on Istid I-II are not an exception. Everything was crafted in the period between 2003 and 2014, and here Hærleif finally offers one hour and twenty minutes of icy cold, deep nordic and desolate ambient by transposing his views and feelings of the great white north into deep and poignant soundscapes. So, the invitation is sent, but do you have enough patience and are you eager enough to take this journey through landscapes transformed into aural emanations.

Istid takes the listener on a journey through nordic land before man stood on and poluted it, before the time when these lands have been given names and makes your imagination explore them in the time when no one could see them. Northaunt gives a lot of material for the most peaceful, but on the other hand also disturbing exploration of your mind and allows you to enter into the world where only ice is alive, but beware, heard from the confortable safe zone could become such an addictive journey you might not want to come back. Istid I-II is like the title suggests divided into two parts, first one, starting with more than 15 minutes long album title track "Istid", is a bit more bright, it's like observing a daybreak. You can almost feel it on your skin how the freezing air pricks it, but still there are colours appearing on the horizon that marks the landing point for a lonely traveler from the future. Even though the ambiances are dark and it slowly gets even darker when the sun slowly hides in "The Unseen Earth" and soon after the darkness covers the land completely in "Mammoth", it's like only senses are still alive, bursting and full of expectations as there's heard in the distance a blizzard coming, but left just there even when the final mystical sounds of "Cold Streams" end.

You won't hear any drum beats, no guitars, there's no rush, only sounds of peacefully colliding synths, stirring dark atmospheres behind the moonlight haze, it's like being there, tasting it, seeing how the aurora borealis changes its shape and plays with light. Everything is left to the listeners imagination, or shall I say to the traveller who's once observing the land awakening, unburdened innocent shimmering world, and then seeing the same one in the complete darkness. It's a beautiful world, peaceful, you must close your eyes and get overwhelmed by its duality.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10