White Mountain


Western Vinyl, 2013


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


I couldn't have been more wrong when I assumed due to the band name and jagged, ominous cover art that this would fall under the extreme metal category. Turns out Ulfur is the moniker of Icelandic musician Ulfur Hansson (formerly of Jonsi), and for his debut he takes a different approach by documenting his world travels with recordings he took a long the way, essentially paying homage to his global roaming. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The seven tracks here are evidence of his wanderings, natural noises and field recordings that are matched up with electronica, guitars and hushed percussion. To say that this is calming could be the understatement of the year. It might be more accurate to label this as the tranquil sounds of nature against a light musical backdrop. The first track, "Evoke Ewok," starts off with the fluttering of seagulls and subtle electronica before chimes are brought in. It's a blurry, meditative tune that wouldn't be out of place on a soundtrack for a Discovery Channel documentary. This moves into "So Very Strange," an aptly-titled tune with harps and an overall ghostly feel that brings in surreal, wispy female vocals courtesy of Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (Mountain Man), who makes several appearances here.

While the first two songs could easily allow you fall into a soothing, therapeutic coma, the middle of the album walks a different path. "Black Shore," though still tame, sweeps in like a steamroller compared to the selections before it, offering more forceful percussion and xylophones. "Heaven In A Wildflower," on the other hand, begins with a clarinet and is a gently picked acoustic song with violins and plenty of nature-centric feelings. The disc exits as purely as it entered, the last couple of tracks sounding as pleasant and pristine as the best moments here.

Truly an organic listen, White Mountain is an album that you can get lost in and will easily transport you to the most serene moments of your life; it definitely has the most impact when listened to all the way through from beginning to end. While most music being made today is designed to make you move, Ulfur will have you seeking out the nearest meadow to take in the vast beauty inherent in all things the earth has to offer.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Western Vinyl, and is used for informational purposes only.