Review Archive

‘Nine and Fifty Swans’ from Norwegian progressive gothic-folk artist Tirill

(January 16, 2012)

It takes nerve to base an album around the poems of WB Yeats. Not the easiest poetry to access – wrapped in allusive imagery, mysticism, symbolic structure and introspection - some find it too obscure to absorb. To base your lyrics on the poems and then write fitting music to transport them into another place demandsTirill exceptional vision and considerable song writing skill. Well, the solo album, ‘Nine and Fifty Swans’ from Norwegian progressive gothic-folk artist Tirill achieves its objective. It delivers subtle interpretive lyrical quality and gently intricate musical character to lead those that love Yeats’ poetry to diverse intriguing places.

From the muted introduction of ‘O Do Not Love Too Long’, through the inspirational, enigmatic interpretation of ‘The Cap and Bells’ to the gentle simplicity of ‘To A Child Dancing in The Wind’ there’s a reflection of Tirill’s love of mystical, ethereal composition. All songs are written and arranged by Tirill with the exception of ‘The Fisherman/ Carolan’s Ramble to Cashel’ which draws on the melodic genius of blind Irish harper Turloch O’Carolan. On this track Tirill adds a soulful flute, tranquil strings and whispering voices to her softly delivered vocals – the result is hauntingly exquisite. The stark sadness and longing of 'Before the World was Made' is precisely reflected in the inspired tune and the fragile delivery. And of course, there's the mysterious beauty of  'The Wild Swans at Coole' - delivered to perfection and achingly poignant in its search for love.

Along with Tirill Mohn (vocals, acoustic guitars, mellotron, violin, percussion) - contributing to various tracks on ‘Nine and Fifty Swans’ are Audun Kjus (flutes, vocals) Nils Einar Vinjor (electric guitar and bass) Nils Herman Schultz (double bass) Sigurn Eng (cello) Oyvind Sorensen (percussion) Nick Jones (violin) Dagfinn Hoboek (vocals) Jan Tariq Rui-Rahman (piano) Johanne Gallagher (Gaelic voices) Wandering Finn (spoken words) Kostas Stenfanopoulos (vocals) and Tonje Ettesvoll (backing vocals).

Yeats lived long in the days of Celtic twilight, Irish legends and the occult before turning towards the more physical world, yet still engrossed with spiritual masks and cyclical theories of life. This album moves through both a mystical landscape and transcendental world to become one with the words, vocals and music. Tirill’s voice fits perfectly with the essence of this concept while the gathering of talented musicians contribute much to the overall feel of ‘Nine and Fifty Swans’.

 Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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