Norn – “Norn” (cassette)

As I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, a couple of months ago I got a box of Icelandic goodness from my friends over at Reykjavik’s Paradísarborgarplötur label.  They were the ones who sent me the Fighting Shit CDs, Ofvitarnir’s Steven Hawking / Stephen Tyler, and boatload of other stuff.  Including a couple of cassettes.  Which I ordered even though I had no way to play them.  Which forced me to go out and buy an old Technics bookshelf stereo with a tape deck in it.  You know.  So I could play my tapes and stuff.

In the event you don’t have a tape deck, don’t despair.  While you really should support this small indie label and buy a copy of Norn for all of 500 kr (that’s about $4.25 US, kids) plus shipping, the label also generously offers the whole six song album for free download at their website HERE.  But really, just go there and buy some stuff from them.  Help a brother out and support some guys that are doing some cool stuff.

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As you can see Norn is more than just a six-song EP.  It’s more than just a cassette.  It’s a bit of an art project in and of itself.  And yes, I took the picture right side up so that the case opens on the right side… the cross is supposed to be upside down.  I’m not sure what the black stuff is on the cover, but it’s seems like some kind of paint.  Which makes sense, since cassette itself is also painted (red, as you can see).  Inside a paper insert is unceremoniously skewered into the bottom, featuring a drawing of some dude on fire and a track listing on the reverse.  Like I said, the packaging itself is a bit of an artistic statement.  Admit it.  Just looking at this kind of makes you want to listen to find out what this band is all about.

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Norn is another Þórir Georg project, one that resembles his work with Ofvitarnir a bit.  The sound is echoey – it sounds like it was recorded in some abandoned warehouse somewhere, with everyone standing kind of far away from the machine that was recording them.  It’s strained.  It’s noisy.  It feels just a little disorganized, but the chords are very basic and relentless, so it stays together.  Georg’s The voice strains to get through the ten feet of gauze the microphone must be wrapped in.  Or maybe it’s inside a big metal can, which would explain the metallic edge that everything has.  And I don’t mean metallic like heavy metal; I mean like it’s wrapped up in foil or something.

“Myrkur” is my favorite track here, with it’s repetitive, out front bass line that holds the song together until Georg takes the vocals and electricity in his guitar and turns them both up, giving a cracking intensity before the song drops back down to just the rhythm section and that bass line again.  The most unique song is “Tenerife,” if for no other reason that its 10 minute run time is more than twice as long as anything else on Norn.  It starts off like a post-punk Gun Club song before going off into a weird Black Sabbath-esque psych instrumental freak show for a while, coming back to some quick vocals right at the very end.

Norn has actually been rechristened BÖRN, since apparently there’s some black metal band out there also going by Norn, but more importantly it sounds like we’ll be getting a new BÖRN album some time in 2014.  I’m not sure what format it will be on, or if it will be a full album or something shorter, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it and will try to pick up a copy when I’m at Airwaves.

Norn.  Check ’em out.  It’s free!

JULY 17, 2014 CORRECTION –>  So apparently I am an idiot, as Þórir Georg is NOT the vocalist on this.  And in fact, the singer is a woman!  Ha!  So I messed up, but instead of just correcting this and pretending it didn’t happen, I’m leaving it up with some strikethroughs as a monument to my idiocy.

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