Natten is Bremer/McCoy’s fifth album. Enhed (2013), Ordet (2015), Forsvinder (2016), and Utopia (2019) precede it. Up until now, all the albums have centered around the terroir; they have been earthbound and grounded. The spirit of those albums has been that of the soil, you could say. Likewise, the album covers have had the same recurring image – that of a circle. Whether carved out, graphically, formed with gathered pinecones in the forest, or made out by the outline of a bush, that human-made ring had become the Bremer/McCoy trademark image. Natten presents a departure from this form. It breaks the established mold. The circle is still there, but it’s no longer tangible. It now resembles a portal. Something else is going on here. Bremer/McCoy have seemingly left the ground.
As is most often the case, the very first notes or sounds of an album strike the feel of the music to come. With Radiohead‘s Kid A, the entire vibe of the LP is contained within those first alien-sounding Rhodes notes of “Everything in its Right Place”. Likewise, Natten begins with the sound of crystal-like glass bells ringing heavenly before airy synths gently kick in and give way to the now-familiar Bremer/McCoy Rhodes sound. We know who we are in company with, but the space is new, and the ambiance is light. The opening of Natten feels like stepping into an outdoor hot tub on a chilly summer night. You instantly sense this is the right decision; it’s the right place to be. The environment is wholly comforting and disarming. You’re now relaxed and open to whatever sensations do arrive.
Natten is not totally airborne, however. The album is evenly divided into songs that are grounded and of an introspective nature and tracks that flow and float off. The division makes sense, and it ensures that the music and listener always know their bearings. Likewise, it makes the transitions that much more enjoyable. Weightlessness is, supposedly, only mindblowing when you’re not weightless all of the time. Also, discovering new territory, ideas and emotions necessitate a level of processing. The experiences have to settle before new depths can be reached.
The overall feel of Natten isn’t divided, though: positivity, clarity, and lightness abound. With titles such as “Gratitude”, “Mit Hjerte” (my heart), “Nu og Altid” (now and forever), and “Aurora”, there’s a strong spiritual current going through this record. You feel it instantly and continually throughout, and it changes your vibrations. Experiencing Natten has an uplifting effect that feels addictive.
The spiritual allusions of the titles, imagery and sounds come to a quiet crescendo in the closing piece, the Ethiopian-vibed “Lalibela”. At first listen, it stands apart in every way. The song is an ode to Ethiopian legend Mulato Astatke and so far removed from the Nordic pines of the rest of the album. However, by the second listen, you realize the LP has to end on this note. Mulato is the yin to Jan Johansson’s yang. Also, Lalibela is the Ethiopian city that is said to have cradled civilization. It is also a city deeply steeped in religion and holiness, with its mystic churches carved out in stone right out of the ground. This is the place of the mother tree where all roots of the world converge – where you go and give your thanks.
The album could have ended with “Natten (Part 2)”, coming full circle and closing in on itself. That would have been a satisfactory conclusion. It doesn’t, and that makes all the difference.
The album is a journey to the end of the night. As is often the case, once you venture out, you don’t come back. You don’t circle back. You can’t because everything has changed. You have changed. Nothing is the same, and that’s the deal with the journey. Here, with “Lalibela”, you reenter the warm water, but it’s a whole other bath now. It’s a cleansing signaling the end of your rite of passage. It feels good and having made that journey and transformation, it now feels like nothing else. Just like “Lalibela” feels like nothing else on the album. You don’t leave Natten the same way you came in.
The night can be a time of introspection – of taking stock of the day’s experiences – or it can be a time of sensory and metaphysical exploration. It sounds like Natten is open to both.