Spurv – Blader som faller til jorden og blir til nye trær (EP) (Fysisk Format/Diger Distribution)

“Blader som faller til jorden og blir til nye trær” is the debut 4-song EP from the Norwegian six-piece, instrumental outfit, Spurv, whose line-up consists of three guitarists, a bass player, a violinist and a cellist.

Comparison to influences ‘Godspeed You! Black Emperor’, ‘Mogwai’ and ‘Explosions in the Sky’ are  inevitable. Their brand of instrumental post-rock isn’t as complex as that of ‘Mogwai’ or ‘Red Sparowes’ nor as cinematic as ‘Godspeed You! Black Emperor’,  and shares more in common with say, ‘Explosions in the Sky’. Another notable characteristic of Spurv’s music is what sounds like an influence of black metal.

Track #1 ‘Store øyne, men uten gevir’ (7:43) begins with a slow, clean-tone, tremolo effected, guitar melody later met by a cello that creeps into the right speaker and later by a reverberated guitar playing a simpler, complimentary melody. Just 90 seconds into the EP things are sonically sublime with the listener drawn into the picture that Spurv has delicately illustrated. Drums enter after two minutes and the guitars switch to distortion creating a black metal-esque landscape with cascades of  cymbals, frantic, tremolo picked guitars and a mood that is well,  funereal.

At the four minute mark , we’re introduced to a new section spearheaded by a rather strange 70’s rock riff; here the emotion loosens up offering the listener some respite. A guitar accentuated by fast, tremolo picking appears from the right speaker making things more consistent with the earlier sections of the song, leading to a build-up reminiscent of ‘Sæglópur’ by Sigur Ros. From 6:15 onwards, we drop to a half-time beat and return to the black metal atmospherics of earlier. This section of the song is particularly effective.

Although strong overall, the transitions and the different “sections” that make up ‘Store øyne, men uten gevir’ feel a tad pre-meditated and don’t flow as well as they perhaps could. In contrast, ‘Gamle årringer’ (6:27) flows more organically and plays out like a cinematic score. Despite being down-beat and at times even sorrowful due to the melody played by the cello and violin, ‘Gamle årringer’ does offer glimpses of sunshine. Clean, reverberated guitars help to create new soundscapes that would fit well in the film, ‘The Descendants’. Things move along a little more steadily around 3:00 when the guitar notes double and a kick-drum and ride is introduced. The song comes to crescendo at 4:15 during which the strings hit the high mark, guitars squeal and cymbals crash.

Beginning with a riff that sounds deceptively like a rock song looming,  a clean tone guitar melody is introduced and the mood of  ‘Med enormt håp’ (7:45)  changes dramatically (that mood of course being a more bleaker one). Spurv then send wave after wave of guitars characterized again by their frantic picking and here  the band rock harder than elsewhere on the EP. ‘Med enormt håp’, like ‘Gamle årringer’ before it, flows seamlessly allowing the listener to close their eyes and become immersed in the sound.

“Jeg våknet av en gren” (9:00) is the final song on the EP beginning with the sound of bells that fades out leaving a trail of ambience. Violin and cello takes us through the first couple of minutes of the song exhibiting a mournful quality before a clean guitar melody introduces an Arabic tinged melody. Drums are introduced at the five and a half minute mark as are layers of guitars played in their favoured tremolo picking style. While “Jeg våknet av en gren” draws to a close during what starts to feel like an all-too-familiar sullen mood, a great little bass run during the last few minutes add an interesting dimension. The more ambient passages created in this song also hint at an interesting angle that Spurv could explore further in the future.

“Blader som faller til jorden og blir til nye trær” is an extremely solid debut and although it runs the risk a little too bleak at times, the EP is a more than worthy listen for fans of the aforementioned post-rock bands or fans of atmospheric black metal.

“Blader som faller til jorden og blir til nye trær” was released on April 20 and is currently available via iTunes and Spotify but will be re-released on June 29 via Fysisk Format/Diger Distribution.