Not content with dazzling the underground with Enslaved, Ivar Bjørnson has been insanely busy lately. In keeping with detours like Trinacria and Skuggsjá, BardSpec is a leap away from his day job, but his delight at the limitless possibilities of musical expression remains omnipresent. Superficially, this is a wistful paean to the atmospheric achievements of electronic pioneers like Tangerine Dream and Cluster, replete with shimmering walls of old-school synths and a persistent motorik pulse that’s equal parts Kraftwerk and Neu! Unlike a lot of similarly inclined projects, however, the extended pieces onHydrogen sound neither retro nor tethered to someone else’s blueprint. Bone is a languorous, sunlit skitter across frozen wastes, at times almost ephemeral in its ambient drift but never settling into moribund repetition. Elsewhere, 12-minute closer Salt sounds like minimalist techno filtered through a kaleidoscopic, prog rock prism, with cavernous reverb softening the blow of its dense, underlying melancholy. An enthralling trip and another triumph for the bearded wonder.
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