Throughout his numerous and prolific projects,
Sweden's composer Henrik "Nordvargr" Bjorkk (1971) always
specialized in melodrama.
His first major project was Maschinenzimmer.412, better known as
MZ.412 (originally a trio, but later a duo with Drakh), that pioneered what
came to be known as "black industrial".
The childish and under-arranged Malfeitor (Cold Meat Industry, 1989)
indulges in trivial polyrhythms (Virus, the
militaristic (Auguste Piccard's Nightmare,
the syncopated Ecaf Dloc II)
and Nine Inch Nail-ish songs (Malfeitor, Fire).
Each piece is monotonous, with little or no change throughout.
Macht dur Stimme (Cold Meat Industry, 1990) collects some live
performances and some new pieces.
The electronic arrangements are a bit more varied on
In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas Luciferi Excelsi (Cold Meat Industry, 1995),
that therefore relies less on the artifice of setting in motion a rhythms
and letting it go ad nauseam.
The nine-minute In Nomine Dei is a totally different kind of
alien signals against a buzzing background,
a shrill drilling sound that pops up erratically,
a sense of pulsating decomposing flesh,
and a coda of glitchy hyperbass drone.
Even the simplistic drone and distortion cycles of Black Earth,
the miasmatic clangor of Regie Satanas and
exude gloom and doom galore.
On the other hand,
the eleven-minute Salvo Honoris Morte begins promising with
geyser-like eruptions and metallurgic banging, but the latter goes on
six minutes too long; a vice that has not been eradicated yet and that
surfaces also in the other shorter pieces.
The MZ.412 saga continued on
Burning the Temple of God (1996), that recycled the same old tricks in
the nine-minute Deklaration Of Holy War
and in the cinematic eleven-minute Taking The Throne, neither of which
achieves the sense of horror of the previous album.
The new ideas don't seem well developed:
the best rhythm surfaces at the beginning of
Vampiir Of The North, a sort of fast typewriter sound, but it goes
nowhere; the best drone is the loud drilling of
De Ondas Vandring, but, again, it goes nowhere;
and Feasting On Khristian Blood sounds like a parody of
shrieking black metal.
Mostly, Nordik Battle Signs (1999) is positively boring and occasionally
amusing (the militaristic ten-minute Der Kampf Geht Weiter).
A dearth of ideas leaves lengthy ruminations like
Satan Jugend II - Global Konquering virtually naked.
MZ412 tried to revitalize its obsolete sound on
Domine Rex Infernum (2001) with the
slowly-mutating dark ambient music of
the 41-minute Ritual Summ Nv, possibly their most sophisticated
creation yet, but 20 minutes too long.
Infernal Affairs (Cold Meat Industry, 2006) resumed the MZ412 moniker.
Vault (2011) is a five-disc anthology.
MZ412 returned after a long hiatus with
Hekatomb (Cold Spring, 2015).
Bjorkk's most celebrated project was the band
Folkstorm (dissolved in 2001), well represented by the
brutal, militaristic sound of
Information Blitzkrieg (1999).
At their best the compositions are intensely tragic, like
This Is War for rhythm and samples and
M.H.S.M. for droning and samples.
Haus Betula falls in their old vice of simply repeating for seven
minutes a cute rhythmic novelty.
The rest speculates on facile musical imitations of war sounds, all the
way to the unimaginative closer Beendigung Opus Rex.
The live Hurtmusic (2000) perhaps captured the project in a more
visceral mode than the studio albums.
Another winner in the "militaristic" mode is the pounding
Victory or Death (2000),
while its Funeral Force would do well as a sci-fi soundtrack.
Folkstorm remained trapped in obvious limits of inspiration on subsequent
releases such as the EP Noisient (Old Europa Cafe, 2001),
For the Love of Hate (2002), with the terrifying missile-like drone of
the more aggressive and dissonant Sweden (2004),
and Folksongs (2011).
Each is a romantic collage of wartime soundbites:
martial tempos, tolling bells and radio broadcasts,
interspersed with industrial beats and rumbling drones.
Folkstrom's militaristic sound was resurrected (just a bit less violent) for the next
project, Toroidh, represented by
Those Who Do Not Remember The Past Are Condemned To Repeat It (2001),
Europe is Dead (2001), Testament (2002),
that contains the four-part Testament,
three albums later collected as the triple-CD European Trilogy (War Office Propaganda, 2006),
With this project the influence of the abstract dadaistic industrial music of
Nurse With Wound became more relevant.
The violent side of Folkstorm also surfaced in the parallel project,
Hydra Head 9, represented by
Power Display (Old Europa Cafe, 2002), its most powerful wall of noise,
Kod (2003), and Heat (2004).
In the meantime, Bjorkk had also started a collaboration with Drakh
(basically a reunion of MZ.412) that yielded:
Cold Void of Nothing (2002),
Infinitas In Aeternum (Cyclic Law, 2004),
The Betrayal Of Light (tUMULt, 2007),
containing the eleven-minute Vessel.
Bjorkk then began to release (under his own name) bleak electronic music, that,
ultimately, aimed at evoking the sound of fear:
Awaken (Eibon, 2002);
the 8-disc box-set Sleep Therapy (Old Europa Cafe, 2003)
for altering sleeping patterns;
On Broken Wings Towards Victory (Old Europa Cafe, 2003);
Partikel II (2007) and
Partikel III (2013),
three collaborations with Merzbow;
L/A/B's Psychoacoustics (Gound Fault, 2004), live electronic improvisations in a trio;
I End Forever (Horch, 2004).
The Dead Never Sleep (Old Europa Cafe, 2005) was a mature and
sophisticated album, containing two of his artistic peaks:
the dark ambient nebula of the 14-minute Algenon
and the glitch-horror ambient concerto of the 19-minute TDNS.
Vitagen (Essence Music, 2005), his mature venture in
musique concrete, applied the same philosophy of terror to post-industrial
droning music (notably, Steril and Omega).
Drakh's own project is Beyond Sensory Experience, that released
three albums in 2003,
Korrelations (Old Europa Cafe, 2004) and
Pursuit Of Pleasure (Cold Meat Industry, 2005).
Nordvargr and Drakh also collaborated with Japanese sound artist Kenji Siratori
on the double-disc Hypergenome666 (Old Europa Cafe, 2007), each disc
pitting one of the two against Siratori.
In Oceans Abandoned By Life I Drown... To Live Again As A Servent Of Darkness (Essence, 2007) marked a return of sorts to guitar-based black metal.
Goatvargr (Cold Spring, 2006) was a collaboration with
Goat (Andy O'Sullivan).
Vargr was Bjorkk's "traditional" black-metal project, that yielded
Wehrmacht Satanas (Eternal Pride Productions, 2007)
Northern Black Supremacy (20 Buck Spin, 2007), two albums full of
noise a` la
Nordvargr returned with
Semen (2006), a collaboration with Hentai,
For the Blood Is the Life (2007),
and Helvete (Eternal Pride, 2008).
All Hail The Transcending Ghost (Cold Spring, 2009) was a collaboration
between Henrik Nordvargr Bjorkk and Tim Bertilsson of Fear Falls Burning,
a work that evoked the creepiest ambience of industrial and psychedelic
Evolution (Old Europa Cafe, 2009), composed over a decade,
confirmed the retreat into cryptic ambient music.
The avalanche of releases continued unabated:
Interstellar 2 (2009),
The Walls Are Closing In (2010), that contains four of his longest pieces,
Resignation 2 (2010),
Avart - Music for Movement (2011), recorded live in studio,
Tyglad Best (2011), an experiment with modular synthesizer,
Murkhr (2012), that contains two 20-minute pieces,
Set and Setting,
Music For N-Dimetyltryptamin (2012),
the eleven-disc compilation The Dromopoda Transmissions (2013),
Wermland Atonal 1 (2014),
Originome (2015), originally released as Hypergenome666 (2006),
Partiklar (2015), with the 23-minute Tardyon Storm,
The quality remained inversely proportional to the productivity.
Drakh, instead, released only Bethlehem (2010).
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