EXIT NORTH – Book Of Romance And Dust

Inner Knot 2018

Book Of Romance And Dust

To hear the world and the void, four well-respected musicians delve into universal soul and uncover their own vulnerability.

Although the Nordic cool of this collective seems dispassionate, such an impression is illusory, and the key to its understanding can be found in their first record’s finale, the glorious raga “Another Chance” that lists classical elements – wind, earth, fire and water – to outline the quartet’s cerebral equilibrium yet also to indicate there’s soul in their music. That’s why it doesn’t feel cold, despite deceptively minimalist setting of the nine pieces on display; that’s why it’s as intimate as a close confidante’s whisper in your ear; that’s why there are simple secrets hidden in plain sight. Thomas Feiner’s gruff voice might be quite quiet, but his trumpet will betray a storm raging behind songs like “Bested Bones” which he and pianist Ulf Jansson laid down in 2012 and which unfolded over seven years into “Book Of Romance And Dust” after Charles Storm and JAPAN’s Steve Jansen – the only non-Swede in the line-up – joined in to arrange rhythmic front and stage an array of austere, if vibrant, numbers that simmer with strings and menace.

As orchestral tide rises and ivory dewdrops descend, complementing the ensemble’s electric surge, “Lessons In Doubt” would wash the uninitiated in patinated beauty – after the sparse, pain-driven refrain of “Sever Me” placed the “uncover me” plea into a picture of a forlorn fjord – and while the chamber ripples which lull “Short Of One Dimension” can sound aloof, its inscrutable balladry is immensely warm. The heartbeat-shaped drums and serrated guitar that slowly stampedes through the brass-stricken landscape should keep the listener transfixed for the reverie to be shattered when heavy riffs fall on “Passenger’s Wake” and stress the weight of glimpsed imperfection the band are booming about, before delicate synthesizers and bells imbue instrumental “North” with spiritual solemnity.

So even though the clanging “Spider” comes across as a creepy cut, there’s sympathy in its meandering lines which drip with radio signals – a beacon for the epic wonder of “Losing” whence a female voice will emerge as Solveig’s ghost – and will vanish in low, disturbing hum. They may sing of long gone victories, yet what the ensemble’s delivered is frighteningly timeless.


August 26, 2019

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