Ivar Bjørnson's guide to Bardspec's new album Hydrogen

Ivar Bjørnson
Ivar Bj\u00f8rnson

Hydrogen is a collection of songs that can be seen as meditations upon simple, stripped-down concepts that constitutes enormous constructs; the cosmos, nuclear science, magick and life itself. It is a bottom-up approach in the way that the grandiosity of ‘existence’ is dwelt upon from its smallest parts. Musically the pieces are also kind of ‘deconstructed’; a backward process compared to the way I am used to writing with Enslaved and my other ‘organic’ bands. Many of the first generation synthesisers produced their fascinating sounds through the process of subtractive synthesise: electricity generated saturated noise (what we would recognise as static on all frequencies), which was then subtracted from and tamed until you had the desired sound. With BardSpec’s music I tend to build the most saturated/climactic point (when the songs have such a thing, sometimes I like to just drone on – there’s no desire to make MDMA-fuelled kids jump around as the breakdown peaks), and then I’ll break it down, deconstruct that, then piece the song together. I hope people will give the album a chance; whether they come from a metal, industrial, ambient, electronic or any other genre or combinations of genres.


Deposition is used to describe phase transitions – meaning the change from gas to substance without passing through a liquid state. This is a short reflection to set the mood before the album; a sort of metaphor for going from idea and vision (gas) into music (substance), without the doubts and tryouts, fails and remakes (liquid) that is a part of purely commercial products that we consume. It is a Moog Mother 32 sequencer interacting with a reverb and an echo unit.


Bones are a powerful gateway to larger mental constructs. They are associated with divination, strength, but also vulnerability and death. Bones are times gone by, and a metaphor for how everything dies – they are life and death in one. They are also symbols of integrity, yet at the same time they are used by the lawless; a paradoxical construct in a sense. It is one of the most upbeat (if you can call it that) BardSpec tunes where the layers keep latching onto the train made out of ancient bones, moving relentlessly forward in a dark and ominous landscape.


Fire is essential to life on Earth, but also a powerful symbol for enlightenment, awakening and learning – there have been many secrets revealed in the flickering lights. It is the life-force on the micro scale that the cave man’s salvation is the fire that thaws his limbs. The uncontrollable storm of death as it races through primeval forests or entire cities in war. The cosmic ignition when basic elements react explosively to form new forms of matter… and eventually life that can make music about them. Musically it is heavy and driving, like a massive fire-haired mammoth moving along slowly but surely.


This is a piece of music inspired by communication across the vastness of space and time. Gamma bursts are the most powerful bursts of electromagnetic energy in the universe. These rays travel from the edges from an ever-expanding universe (in itself the most poetic of thoughts) to pass us by virtually an eternity after; letting our astronomers know what is happening in faraway galaxies and in black holes. At the same time, these are rays used to treat hostile entities of disease in our bodies (cancers), and they are central products of nuclear bomb detonations; in effect giving human kind the rule over life and death on a planetary level, and more. The music has a lot of samples from short-wave radios, and some pretty obvious Sigur Ros inspirations.


Salt is among the basic building stones; it is necessary for survival and preservation. There is an infinite amount of it on Earth, yet it is easy to remember its central functions in our existence. It is also a sensual element as it sharpens taste and raises flavour – our skin tastes of it and so on. I suspect there is a hint of influence from the Dune mythology also – “control the salt, and you control the universe” ha ha! The song is quite stoic, and a definite nod to the German ambient minimalist masters in the band Software, who did some very influential stuff (for me) – check out their Chip Meditation albums if you like this song! I certainly do!

Hydrogren is out now via By Norse Music.

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