In a world where musical genres often blur across boundaries, it is both a challenge for a band and a pleasure for a music lover like me to see a band anchor their music vision to a definitive style. For me, this doesn’t reflect a band’s lack of originality or an absence of desire to challenge itself, but rather expresses the humility and dedication of a band to work within certain established parameters. With Skarntyde, Spurv delivers post-rock in the pure tradition of the genre. It doesn’t have any pretention of reinventing a music style, but rather inscribes itself as a cornerstone within the limits of a genre that has proven its pertinence for over two decades now.
RELEASE DATE: 11 May 2015 LABEL: No Forevers Records
Spurv indeed draws its influences from the big names of post-rock. We sense some Godspeed You! Black Emperor!, sometimes in the drumming, sometimes in the explosions and the power of the songs, like the end of Mellom Broens og eleven. We can also sense some Mogwai, in the variety of emotions within the songs and across the album, or in the noisy songs like Lyden av lov som biter seg fast til sin egen kropp that I suspect would become an epic wall of sound live. We can also sense some hints of fellow Norwegians, 1099, who released two masterpieces back to back in 2013 and 2015, in their general approach.
One thing I want to highlight is the (excellent) choice Spurv made by naming their songs in their native language, Norwegian. Spurv have taken the advantage that instrumental music allows to display their cultural identity to their fans. As a cultural minority myself in a world where English takes over pretty much everything, I can’t express the pleasure I get as a music fan to try and translate the song titles. Discovering new expressions that sometimes don’t make sense in English (or in my case, French). When it comes to instrumental music, there isn’t any reason why one shouldn’t display their culture like this and it’s a pleasure to emphasize it.
A basic necessity of instrumental music is to be able to convey emotions without words. Spurv indeed lead us into a vast field of emotions. From happiness to sadness with pretty much everything inbetween. Not every instrumental band can glorify themselves by being as emotionally powerful as a good songwriter can be but Spurv are one of those bands. By managing to shift the atmosphere within the song multiple times, they create a coherent musical ensemble that is structured, intelligent and overall pleasant to the listener. It keeps us interested for the entire duration of the songs.
With 4 songs clocking in at over 44 minutes, we would expect some ambient or slow melodic passages. Spurv, however, usually likes to get to business right away and, while the songs progress in intensity, it’s never in a linear way. The ups and downs from slow melodic passages to melodic explosions are a challenge for the listener and remind us of progressive rock, structurally. The climax can sometimes be within the first minutes and therefore, as listeners, we are constantly wondering what’s going to be around the corner.
When it comes to structure, it is also very important to end on a great note with this kind of post-rock record. A lack of point of reference in instrumental songs will sometimes make the listener lose focus. This clever climax is exactly what Spurv do with Hvorfor er det noe og ikke ingenting; the beautiful melodic leitmotifs close a record that much rather sound like the beginning of a new one. This is indeed a landmark in the cultural landscape of 2015 and a band to follow closely in the years to come.