Portuguese soundscaper VelgeNaturlig has a penchant for creating dramatic soundworlds where the elements interact freely with more complex constructs. The magical album Humus, originally self-released some nine years ago, is a true gterma favourite and are delighted to bring it once more into the spotlight where its regal stature can inspire a new generation of listeners. CD comes in jewel case with 16-page booklet.
"The Swedish gterma not only stands for new music, but every now and then restores older, less known material. “Húmus” is an example of such a release – good thing that it appeared on a silver disc for the second time, because it’s quite a remarkable piece of music.
VelgeNaturlig comes from Portugal and has been active in ambient, electronic/acoustic territories for almost twenty years. As far as I know the project is still active, although the frequency of releasing subsequent material certainly isn’t this musician’s virtue. Perhaps the re-issue of “Húmus” will encourage the Portuguese artist to deliver something fresh, however for the time being, let’s talk about an album, the first edition of which appeared on CDr on Galdor Technologies, a label devoted only to VelgeNaturlig releases.
Let’s discuss the album as the first two tracks are already delightful. Both “Ljossalfheimr” and “Respect” are comprised of delicate ambient textures and field recordings and take the listener exactly to the place that is captured on the cover photo. A little bit of Steve Roach, a pinch of Alio Die, the result is a very strong introduction to the further parts of the disc. Electronic darkness sneaks into “Waterstone” which is the third segment of “Húmus”. Water still flows, gently washing cave stones, however this process is accompanied by thudding pulsations and slight, summoning drones. Similarily to the case of the first two compositions, “Waterstone” and “Chandra” also form a certain mini diptych within the larger musical construction. “Chandra” continues the disturbing sounds of its predecessor, although even more unidentified noises and clatters creep inside the track. Have we awakened a beast, for many days sleeping and dreaming somewhere deep in the cave?
“Ironlunar Aqua Passage” is the longest part of “Húmus”. Surely one of the most ascetic, based on very subtle natural textures again and again disturbed by strange noises. In “Greenstone” we may hear some human voice processed in the same way as for example Raison d’etre had done with Gregorian choirs on some of his recordings. Drones of a darker shade flow in. We’re very deep underground, inside a natural maze of wet stone. Sorry for this rather inappropriate pop-culture association, but remember Neil Marshall’s “The Descent”?
So it’s time for us to find our way back into the light. The wonderful “Solarhiringar” leads the listener by the hand towards safe, warm areas. Although they’re still far away. Pay attention to the beautiful windy and watery background. And then we have “Breath of Trees”, which offers exactly what it promises in the title. No more, no less. A composition again created using mostly field recordings, dabbed with an electronic brush here and there. A metallic noise tears apart “Thunder” as if someone earnestly wanted to disrupt the return trip. But in the end, we go out on the surface. It’s night. Starless, filled with the sounds of the forest (“Knarr”). Terrifying. Maybe down there, it wasn’t that bad anyway? Black turns gray and then blue, illuminated by the first rays of the sun. It’s “Eternal Gratitude”, the beautiful, calming finale of the album.
The great thing about “Húmus” is its peculiar primordiality and naturalistic vibe. The use of field recordings here is simply perfect. These sounds don’t give the impression that they are taking me somewhere into the wilderness. No, while listening to “Húmus” I’m actually there. This in general is a characteristic of Portuguese projects, few artists can weave forest, wind and rain into their music so eloquently. It is VelgeNaturlig, Wolfskin and The Joy Of Nature, or with a bit of a different drum Sangre Cavallum. Doesn’t matter if they do it literally or through field recordings, or simply through the skillful creation of an original, somewhat heathen atmosphere. They’re feeling it with heart and soul. “Húmus” has it, it speaks to me and I’m really glad that I own this CD." Review - 27/10/2013 · by Santa Sangre