A thick, early morning fog envelops the park. The fallen leaves, golden and rust, lie damp under its clinging wet blanket. Trees loom out of the gloom, suddenly large and foreboding. Under cover of the fog, they take their opportunity to reach down low over the path and snatch at the woolly hats of anyone brave enough to pass by. As the fog slowly lifts, you can hear the trees as they creak back upright and pretend that they have been that way forever. But we know better. It’s that time of year, between the safety of summer and the wild ways of winter, the transition, the liminal season when strange magic works, if you let it. If you believe.
Autumn, like Spring, is a season of change. But unlike Spring, it is the change of withering and decay, of growing dark and impending hardness. At this time of year, many boundaries are at their most precarious: dusk comes earlier and falls faster; Spirits cross the veil. Our world, safe within our enclosure (the innangard of Norse belief systems), is again susceptible to encroachments from ‘outside the enclosure’ (the utangard). Sometimes we go in search of these changes, we hop over the fences that keep the cattle in and the trolls out and we head into the forest, skoggangr. But mostly such folly is for Spring. In Autumn we try to keep the utangardor out.
It is difficult though. The dark forces of change have a way of seeking out weaknesses in our fences. Through acts both large and small, they demonstrate the fragility and deceptive safety of life within our enclosure. Who hasn’t had childhood dreams shattered by contact with the outside world, the utangardor? We all need to face and somehow overcome the mortality of our loved ones, the devastating sense of loss and hopelessness we feel when our parents are finally called into the forest.
But we know too that the forest can be an enchanted place, the realm in which we break free from the restrictions of life in the enclosure. We can feel its call in our day-dreams, in our hopes (and fears) as we lay abed at night. It makes us take risks, fall in love and pursue our dreams — to hell with the consequences. But that sort of thing can wait ‘til the Spring for now it is Autumn and in Autumn, we prepare for the worst.
Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet know this too. On Novemberregn, (their sixth album and a return to Shimmering Moods Records, home of their debut album Järtecken in Autumn 2015), you find them improvising meditations on just such themes. Recorded live and with minimal editing, these are eight tracks of beautiful, contemplative, Autumnal melancholy, of memories of what we have had and lost, and thoughts on what might yet come to pass – but only if we believe in the magic of the transition of the seasons and maybe, just maybe, venture into the forest ourselves.
Words by Andrew, Cameron & Bambi Sherwell
Music written and mastered by Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet
Artwork by Peter Larsson (www.peterlarsson.se)
Track 1 is based on a sample by Johan Andersson (L.T Fisk)
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Olan Mill Sounds of a New Father| CD/Cassette/Digital
Release date: 11.16.2018
After the recent album on Unknown Tone Records, Olan Mill returns to Shimmering Moods Records. There is no doubt that the birth of a child is the most incredible, wonderous, and, frankly, miraculous event to be a part of. It’s the climax of the most complex and awe-inspiring biological processes, the most radical change the human body can go through and the most utterly emotionally over-whelming event possible. No wonder everyone involved is knocked for six.
But no amount of parenting classes, no wise words from friends or parents – absolutely nothing – can prepare you for what happens next: the quiet rise of a totally new sensation, one that will, from now until forever, completely define your existence. It’s not the sudden responsibility for the every need of a defenceless and thoroughly dependent tiny human, a human that is a mix of the DNA of you and your partner, a human that you created. It’s not that, as incredible as that notion is. It is, quite simply, a new type of Love.
A love as you have never known it before. A love that will rule your life. That will never die. That will be behind the most dramatic ups and devastating downs of your life. A parent’s love for their child.
And yet, biology also does everything it can to test this new love. Babies are a challenging thing: the nappies, the constant demands for attention, food, winding. The crying. But the biggest challenge of them all is sleep. Or, more specifically, your sleep and the lack of it. Since the only time you can sleep is when your baby is asleep, getting baby to sleep takes on a frightening level of importance.
But once you finally get a routine established (routines are everything in child care), and you lay baby down for a much-needed rest (yours), the love that guides forever takes hold. Full of a serene joy, you feel you could just watch them breathing, forever. Time stands still. All your aches and pains recede. Love makes everything good.
Olan Mill’s new album is a paean to the whole baby-sleep thing. The overarching tone of the album is one of relaxation: horizontal, but not straightforward. As well as a welcoming of slumber, in here you will also find a yearning for sleep; yes, a yearning for his child to get some sleep but also a personal longing for sleep, for happy rest, not as an escape from the world but as what sleep should be, a moment of truly happy relaxation, a chance to recharge.
At moments there are, just faintly, traces of the desperation that sets in when baby just won’t sleep, won’t stop crying. You know that to show your frustration would be counterproductive, make things worse, so you hide it as best you can. But when sleep deprivation takes hold, the cracks show. There is a high degree of restraint and a better level of parenting on display here than I could ever manage, but even so, if you listen, on occasion the desperation for sleep is there.
But what can’t be hidden, what is clear to all, is the love, the love that sustains and rewards. The love that can bring such joy from the simple act of just watching your sleeping child. Quiet, serene, honest, and beautiful.
Words by Andrew, Cameron & Bambi Sherwell
A note from the artist: “The music was recorded in the moments after baby Alma had gone to sleep. All tracks were recorded using electric guitar and effect pedals. There was no post production or revisions to the original recordings. I was very tired while thumbing out these drones.....” Alex Smalley aka Olan Mill.
Music written and mastered by Alex Smalley
Original paintings by Alma Kemya Smalley
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