The most interesting album of 2021 yet
From looking at the album cover, you’ll expect some Lo-Fi or psychedelic pop or rock, but when pressing play on the first song, you’ll presented with a enchanting ambient instrumental over someone throat singing, screaming, and memorizing singing. This is Sturle Dagsland, a duo comprising brothers Sturle (vocals) and Sjur (production roles) Dagsland from Norway. They started making music in 2016 and released Guaifing; the track has a harmonic and eastern appeal and showcases all Sturle vocal capabilities. His high pitch falsetto, growls, and throat singing. It sounds as if an ancient man came into the recording booth. In 2017 and 2018 they released a few singles displaying a similar style, and creating an atmospheric tone replicating nature.
Three years later, we get their self-titled debut; this is a weird album. As someone who likes experimental and weird music, this overwhelmed me. The album puts Dorian Electra or Clarence Clarity to shame. The duo continue the sound of their single tracks; Sturle’s energetic tenor shines on every track. If it wasn’t for Sturle's voice, this album is like any other atmospheric pop album. For example, the opening track, Kusanagi, Strule’s throat and growls are in full effect and his tone sounds as if doesn’t care what you think. Dreaming showcases his how high he can push his voice; sounding operatic and beautiful over these lush and immersive sound scapes. His voice has a similar style to Bjork, but it hard to say if they’re an inspiration.
In interviews when ask who Strule’s inspiration is, he names three, Aqua’s Aquarium, Pokemon music, and John Williams Star Wars Episode I Soundtrack. You probably think he’s joking, but considering how abstract the music is, it’s believable. Sturle Dagsland used those influences and push them to their limits.
It’s hard to decipher the lyrics, and know what’s he is saying, but it’s safe to say he’s speaking his native Norwegian. There’re moments where it sounds like English, but some Norwegian words sound alike.
The production is enchanting; the sounds created makes you feel like your’re actually in nature. In an interview with 15 Questions, the duo have outdoor studio ready to record any sound captivating enough. In the past they’ve recorded on mountain tops, abandoned industrial areas, and singing with wolves. On their debut, they used what they learn from those experiences to bring the instrumentals alive.
Overall, the Dagsland brothers created an artsy and strangely beautiful album. Full of atmospheric and harmonic instrumentals with the beautiful yet stark vocals of Strule. I’m sure if I like this album, but I’m on the lookout for their followup. If someone asks you you don’t like pop, show them this, but forewarn, they’re in for a surprise.