Novemberregn (November Rain) – Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet, Shimmering Moods Records 2018.
Halloween has been and gone. November is here, and with it comes the rain. Downpours or drizzle, either way relentless, cold. Autumn is well underway, and we wait for winter.
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 Novvemberregn, (their sixth album and a return to Shimmering Moods Records, home of their debut album Jartecken 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.