Ivar Bjørnson is more well known for his involvement with the mighty Enslaved so BardSpec may come as a surprise to anyone expecting wailing guitar licks and intense drum kicks. However there are still aspects of of this contorted into the make-up of the psychedelic experiment. The debut is named after the most primitive element, Hydrogen, and it effortlessly invokes the chemistry within the brains of its audience.
Inspired by but not directly in homage to When, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulzte BardSpec is unique enough to be considered contemporaries rather than a derivative body of work. Listening to Hydrogen is like being a passenger on a trip through synesthetic dimensions. Its pastel tones swirl, shift and sway through the air like ink in water and the cool timbre of the guitar eases its way into a splendid Rorschach test of sound and music.
On Hydrogen it just goes to show that it’s not what you say but how you say it. While the intense gunnery of black metal is exchanged for an attenuated score it still resonates with passages that inspire fear and wonder, and with more space to detail the evolution of the songs these riffs grow to a gargantuan size.
Is it avant-garde? Experimental? There are times when both those ideas, in music, become disconnected and extraneous to the expression and while BardSpec is different from Ivars’ other works it’s still a very cohesive score that jaunts and details a new horizon exquisitely.