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Blod Pilgrimssanger

Discreet Music
24th June 2022

Michael's Pick

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Format Info

LP - black vinyl

Hand-screenprinted, varying differing colours. Comes with A4 page hymn sheet.

They say the devil has all the best tunes, but maybe his opposite number doesn’t too bad. On the fringes of folk music, will naivety, outstanding beauty and a kind of fragile isolation, Blod’s Pilgrimssanger album delves deep into faith and community. A meditation on a particularly Swedish, Christian parish culture deeply embedded in the Swedish national identity, Pilgrimssanger is influenced by hymns, psalms, the people who sing them and the feeling they have between each other.

The songs deals with human connection and solitude in a life built upon faith. The lyrics depicts exposure and anxiety but also joy and belief among free church members, the complexity of the relationships in the community with its leaders and priests and – ultimately – God. The music on Pilgrimssanger is exclusively acoustic, recorded simply with a multitude of performers gathered around and regardless of one’s own convictions is full of light, a fundamental humanity that is deeply affecting.

Unlike some of the group’s other projects, or the more abstract side projects of some of the people involved (the contributors here read like a whos who of the current Gothenburg scene), Pilgrimssanger is structured, song-based, revelling in a bliss that shines through. Acoustic guitars, flutes and simple pipe organ lines create an ecclesiastical atmosphere sure, but it’s measured and focussed on melody. Plenty of the tracks come off like Maher Shalal Hash Baz pieces with their highlighting of expression over perfection.

Thematic narrative aside, the beauty on the record remains. Bandleader Gustaf Dicksson’s frail vocal is nonetheless centred, intoning circular passages that recall simple hymns before he’s often joined by other vocals that harmonize or drift to gently stirring effect. A track like Oroksallan, for example, has a bowed string instrument (OK, it MIGHT be a synth) that converses with both Dicksson’s lead vocal and some affecting background vocals to spine chilling effect.

Love this.

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