Vilsa andars boning is a two-track EP which sent me on a journey of discovery, not just in the music, but in the concept of Grift itself. Grift is the one man creation of musician Erik Gärdefors. His music is a proud yet extremely down-to-earth depiction of rural Sweden. Songs are often themed on long lost Swedish traditions, folklore and poetry of the same region. His mission statement in Grift, as in keeping with the philosophies of his various cultural influences, is to provide listeners with a moment of sensual reflection. Gärdefors describes his previous Grift records, Arvet and Syner, as an exploration of vulnerability and sense of purpose within the human mind.
These themes continue in his latest release Vilsa andars boning. The EP is conceptually based around the Kinnekulle mountain, located in the Swedish county of Västergötland. Besides a number of acoustic reworkings throughout the Grift discography, Vilsa andars boning is also the first material to depart from some of the more aggressive black metal hallmarks of previous records. I have to admit, the clean vocals on this EP are a pleasure to behold. I have no gripe with the tortured hollers of Grift‘s back catalogue; they are actually very effective. But, in my opinion, the serene nature of the music on those records arguably calls for something a little less extreme. I like to think that Vilsa andars boning addresses this balance and gives listeners something more palatable. Also shed are any traces of distorted guitars and aggressive drum beats, which again, in this case, is an extremely good move.
This turn makes for an anthemic dark folk approach. One can almost imagine the first track “Bortom berget” being sung around a table in a rural tavern lost to the past. The song also features some evocative horn blowing, which acts as a potent transporter for the brain. The powerfully sung vocals and accordion-style keyboards make for a distinctive sound, unique even among the black metal and dark folk sub genres.
Second track “Dårarnas massiv” starts with what initially sounds like a fairly straightforward guitar melody. But as before, the power of Erik Gärdefors’ voice gives so much character to the song that there really is no faulting it. And, almost with the intent to bind it to previous Grift works, Gärdefors emits one singular old school scream to sign off the track.
Vilsna andars boning seems to cleverly dodge a melancholy tone in favor of an empowering one. As is the great tradition with Grift, it is wholly immersed within the land which inspired it, but paints such a vivid picture in doing so that it deserves extra merit. The fact that Erik Gärdefors was so eager to share it with the world makes me ever more grateful for the privilege.
It’s a shame that, at only two songs, the journey was so fleeting. I can’t help but gather the sense that Erik Gärdefors is bursting with ideas and innovation. And it’s true that a good EP of two songs is better than an EP of five bad ones. But I see no evidence that the humble and proud voice of Grift is capable of putting a foot wrong, so here’s to more material in the future.
Notable Tracks: “Bortom berget”
FFO: Bhelg, Saiva, Lönndom
Vilsna andars boning will be released April 6. You can hear more from Grift on Spotify and pre-order the EP on Bandcamp. You can also follow Grift on Facebook. For more Nordvis releases, visit their YouTube channel.