Burzum Dauði Baldrs

Burzum Dauði BaldrsA worthwhile commentary on this puzzling album would entail a discussion of the mystery of Baldr’s death, it is possible to appreciate this album purely on its musical numinosity. It would not be inaccurate to say that this is one of the most powerful, pure and clear statements by Burzum; second in that sense only to Filosofem. This qualification is not a reflection of the preference of the writer himself, who rather leans towards Det Som Engang Var, for its use of ritual and melodic metal to formulate a unique voice in black metal; it is simply the categorization of the art works based on their own qualities and a judgement as to their strength and return to purity. What this means exactly is left for the thoughtful reader to study and ponder.

Dauði Baldrs consists strictly of keyboard-produced melodies and synthetic effects such as timpani and cymbals. While extremely repetitive, it is not formulaic in the least; that is to say that each of the individual pieces follows a distinct plan that does not display traces of any structural template in particular. Consistency of style is preserved not only in the narrow selection of material sounds from the synthetic library of the keyboard, but in the way a minimal texture is handled.

The music very rarely expands beyond two voices, and it is often a kind of homophony with a melody of few notes over eight bars in period form (antecedent-consequent) that runs over a few root tones or chords. We also find something of a more monophonic (only one melody line) character with added root tone that only varies enough to provide a sense of movement but which for all intents and purposes does not leave the root for too long. Sometimes, two melodies occur at once, but this is reserved for highlight, transition and a kind of climax.

Dauði Baldrs should probably be considered a synthesis of the spirit of Burzum in its condensed and mature form. If one can bear with the repetition and take it as a meditation then the music works its magic. The character of the music is both melancholic with a tone of the mysterious more than the explicitly mystic, which is often not the point but a quality of Burzum’s music in general. It takes the supra-personal, transcendental, concern of Det Som Engang Var for an individual’s inner connection to an ancient past for which keys lie strewn around in nature, and thus also in correspondent places within himself, and filters it through the atmospheric pensiveness of the more settled treatment found in Filosofem.

The resulting work of art is further affected by the material shortcomings that afflicted Vikernes at the time of its writing and recording. This limitation did not stop the artist but rather worked to further purify the music into its clearest manifestation thus far. As it was clearest, it was also the most obscure in the eyes of a mundane audience for whom the mystery of transcendental music is invisible when it is most visible. There is something else for which the superior artist cannot be commended enough: the music speaks for itself and brings a universe into being; whatever other qualities it has and descriptions that, however accurate, are simply abstracted ways of communicating something about it, and are never a substitute for the clear emotional and spiritual essence found in it.

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