Long awaited, and now it is finally here: The new album of L.E.A.F. called Lys!
Recorded, mixed and mastered throughout the year, today is the day that Kati Ran will present her latest musical endeavour to the world.
LYS is the brainchild of Kati Ran, but there were many others involved. The album was produced by Christoffer Juul at LAVA studio in Denmark, and both Christoffer and Maria Franz of EUZEN perform on the album. Other guest musicians include Kai Uwe Faust of HEILUNG and Oliver S. Tyr of FAUN.
It is an album that is full of deeper meanings, old and ancient poetry, shamanistic rites, and it comes off as an album that was written straight from the heart! Combined with some very nice artwork by Charlotte Boer it has most certainly become a beautiful total package!
Track 1: Flamme
Right away this track opens the album with Kati’s clear and warm voice. The song sounds like an intro, a promise for the rest of the album. The lyrics of the song are by Kati, but with components from Atlamal and Gripisspa, two of the Eddic poems, immediately showing that this album is more than “just music”.
Track 2: Sol
Sol means ‘Sun’, which as the booklet explains has always been very important. The song to me is about man’s journey through time. Like the previous song the lyrics are written by Kati, but this time it contains verses of the poem ‘Let the Light Enter” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. The music starts off simple, but more and more layers get added as the song progresses, which to me can represent not only the seasons of the year, caused of course by the sun, but this can also symbolise life, as it starts off simple but as we grow older we add more and more complexities to life.
Track 3: Ran
The start of this song feels deeply spiritual. When the percussion comes in it provides a lot of depth in the sound and slowly but surely it grows into a song with quite a massive presence. Ran is the Goddess of the sea but also Kati’s stage name.
Track 4: Terveh
Our first ever Monthly Marker and it has been a part of our playlist ever-since. Terveh is a song in an old Finnish language from the Karelian area, and it’s an old Scandinavian rite to contact and communicate with the spirits of the neighbouring forests. As far as the music goes it does have more of a “modern” feel than what you would expect of something so ancient. The hand of Christoffer Juul (Valravn, EUZEN, LAVA studios) is clear in this song. Powerful in the low end, very melodic in the vocals.
Track 5: Harpa Toner
A traditional Norwegian song, and as we may expect from the older European fairytales, death plays a rather large part in it. The song is a story about a girl gets killed by her older sister, so that the older sister can then marry the lover of the dead sister. However, the bones and hair of the young sister are used to create a harp, which then plays at the wedding and sings the truth. Musically a very layered track, with a clear and sharply defined high end and some deep dark lows, combining to a very complete song. Highly enjoyable, if you can forget the murder and body parts 😉
Track 6: Nymanen
A remake of Under Nymanen from L.E.A.F.’s earlier EP. This was my personal favourite then, and the song that made me fall madly in love with the vocal quality of Kati Ran, and so I’m happy that this song was selected for a remake. I can say that the song hasn’t changed an awful lot fortunately, we can just hear that it has matured and has become somewhat more powerful.
Track 7: Vinda
A very laid-back type of song. Slower, with a dreamy quality, it makes you want to close your eyes and just drift off. The song was written by Maria Franz (Euzen) when she was only fourteen, and indeed Maria sings this song as a duet with Kati. I don’t speak Danish, so I can’t really attest to that, but the English translation certainly does have a very poetic feel to it!
Track 8: Fylgja
The title of this song is in Old Norse and the lyrics in German, which would then make the 4th or 5th language on the album, none of which are Kati’s native tongue. If nothing else this emphasizes the international aspect of this album. The song takes the listener deep into a dream-state, with a very nice continuous rhythm and heavy reverb on Kati’s soothing vocals.
Track 9: Suurin
Suurin is another traditional rite from Finland, and the shamanistic properties of the song are evident from the start. Strong drums and a powerful chant, and the power just keeps building up during the song. Even though the song itself doesn’t reach a clear climax, I can certainly envision people reaching a level of ecstasy from this song when performed or played in the right circumstances.
Track 10: LYS
LYS starts off as a Galdr, an ancient form of song intended to conjure magic. I have been fortunate enough to have seen this song performed live on stage at Castlefest during the combined L.E.A.F./SeeD show, and it certainly felt magical! What a sense of power coming from that stage! And I will admit, even the recorded version gives a similar power, which is not often the case. From start to finish this track speaks to the primal part in my soul with the carefully crafted Galdr text and the massive power from the rhythm.
Overall the entire album merits taking the time to put on some headphones, or switch on a very high quality stereo when the neighbours aren’t around, and really experience it. Many of the tracks have poetical, lyrical qualities that deserve your undivided attention. I would say: Listen to the album in that way once. Then, if you don’t have all of the knowledge at hand, get on-line, dive into books, find out as much information as possible about all of the topics that this album holds. Find the parts of the Poetic ‘Edda’ that Kati used and bring their context into the experience. Find the poem “Let the light enter” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and do the same. Envision yourself a part of the Shamanistic rites. And then listen to it again several times. This album is much more than music. To be honest, while that is an amazing achievement, it is also somewhat of a curse. I don’t see LYS ever playing in my car while driving, or in my house as background music. You really want to be able to focus completely on all the layers that Kati gives you. That being said, I am ecstatic to have this album as part of my collection and I really believe that anyone who is into Nordic folk, Nordic mythology or Nordic religion should go out and buy themselves a copy!
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