Henrik Nordvargr Björkk is one of the most established experimental industrial artists there are – as “famous” as one gets in these strange lands. He was and is well known and respected from his early work with Pouppée Fabrikk and MZ-412, his many different solo projects, and for having his career and good name survive a collaboration with Japanese artist Kenji Siratori.
According to label Malignant Records, The Secret Barbarous Names is Nordvargr’s first physical release since 2013. Upon hearing it, we immediately realize that this is something simultaneously quite fresh, and a great nostalgic throw-back to a slightly older and more “traditional” style of Scandinavian death industrial/dark ambient. Heavy with the occult themes, the album is conceptually based on “the Draconian and Typhonian traditions”. This means heavy references to Kenneth Grant style, Egypt based occultism of a darker variety.
When it comes to the sound, it’s mainly very articulate dark ambient, with a big dose of Eastern influences. The two opening tracks are centered around “Aum” like chants, and that basic pattern repeats over the course of the album, with rather distinct fade-in/fade-out style drones and chants. Some tracks, such as “Nile Deep”, are more traditional dark ambient, with long, layered, fleeting notes building massive structures of murky atmosphere. There is very little field recording utilized, as far as I can tell, which in this case makes the effectiveness of the album all the more impressive.
Some tracks are crazier than others – “Lunar Kala Soma” begins like regular dark ambient, but devolves into strangeness, chants and oddity of a kind rather difficult to describe. There’s no resorting to noise or even hard industrial here, though – the disharmonious and bizarre sounds are far more subtle than that. The overall atmosphere of the album is so grimly occult that in the end you may want to make sure to finish the 9th and final track – entitled “Closing of the Gates” – to make sure that none of the Setian creature of Egyptian antiquity have crept out of your headphones and into your head.
Available for the odd price $11,67, or $7 for the digital download version, this is pretty much a steal. Welcome back, Nordvargr.