I’m actually very excited to review this album for HEAVY Magazine, there’s not usually a great deal of attention given to electronica and other than a flute and a guest guitar part, this is an entirely electronic production.
Alwanzatar is the current solo project of Norwegian electronic producer, Krizla, who has been active since 2011 with this and some other projects including psychedelic-folk quartet, Tusmørke; as well as doom metal outfit, Spectral Haze.
Heliotropiske Reiser was produced between late 2016 and early 2017 at Krizla’s home studio Holy Space! in Oslo.
For those people of the ‘it’s not heavy enough…’ persuasion, or for those who shut down because it’s electronic, treat this like a new exotic food you haven’t had before: try it, you might like it!
The album opens with “Dyrene våkner” tr. ‘The Animals Wake’, kicking off with a galloping synth rhythm and a dreamy flute piece that honestly feels as that it would be an Irish Highland tune. Alwanzatar employs flute and Theremin together, and at points, the harmonies of those create the same tone as a hurdy-gurdy, furthering this Gaelic feel. The final minutes of this track are very repetitive, but if you’re listening, you’ll hear the intentional nuances that keep this repetitiveness from becoming tedious.
“Heavy Nå” tr. ‘Heavy Now’, has a very dramatic, drawn-out and almost sinister intro leading into a drum and bass section decorated by an ethereal Theremin melody. After a long and borderline monotonous section, again saved by the intricate detail Alwanzatar demonstrates, there is an alluring flute melody that somehow conjures up a Middle-Eastern feel. At nearly 11-minutes long, this track is a workout to take in. The Theremin in the later part of this track alludes to a 1930’s black-and-white vampire movie.
“Stjernene Blekner” tr. ‘The Stars Are Fading’, instantly paints a mental picture of what I assume Norway to be like: dropping you in a frozen landscape drenched in a midnight sun. I’m not sure how but Krizla can create ‘seasons’ with his music, and I feel this track is his winter-into-spring examination.
The longest track – at 16:40 – is “Rikosjett” tr. ‘Ricochet’. It is epic in both duration and nature. A very long, ascending intro leads into a serene breakbeat with flute and Theremin once again combining to create completely otherworldly sounds. This track is minimalist but layered to perfection. If you’re not paying attention, there is so much you’d miss on this track. Considering the length of it, you’ll be amazed that there is nothing repetitive about it and no parts that lose your attention. This is unquestionably the stand-out track and is the complete demonstration of what to expect from Alwanzatar.
The final track is by far the shortest, but it has the best name: “Den Som Vender Seg Fra Solen” or ‘The One Who Turns From The Sun’. The track does away with drums and relies entirely on atmospheric and celestial sounding combination of laser sounds, Theremin wailings and ghostly flute, giving a strong War of the Worlds quality to it.
All-in-all, Heliotropiske Reiser is a great listening experience that I highly recommend. It’s very accessible, very enjoyable and very different. I’m glad I tried it, I really did like it!