SPILL NEWS: WARDRUNA’S KVITRAVN – FIRST FLIGHT OF THE WHITE RAVEN OUT ON APRIL 22 VIA MUSIC FOR NATIONS / SONY MUSIC / COLUMBIAGERMANY / BYNORSE
PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW
Wardruna have carved a rich, polyphonic and dramatic musical landscape that honours the ancient past without gimmick, whilst simultaneously illuminating meaningful expressions of Norse tradition through intrinsically detailed contemporary composition. Beyond genre, theirs is a sound that must be truly experienced.
In 2022, a year after the release of Kvitravn and as a prelude to the forthcoming live dates, Wardruna are presenting Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven – a release on 2CD, and digital formats, including the original Kvitravn studio album of 2021, plus a live-in-studio audio release captured from their lauded, boundary-pushing virtual live experience First Flight of the White Raven of March 26th 2021. This new release captures their special set list consisting of songs from Kvitravn and fan favourites from across their discography. As a special treat, it will be available as a limited Box Edition including 2LP (black), 2CD, DVD (only available in the boxed set), Flag of the album cover, Certificate of authenticity for the box and an exclusive autographed card signed by Einar Selvik. Tracklisting below.
- 2CD & digital formats: Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven – including Kvitravn album plus the audio of Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven stream, mastered for CD and digital.
- 2LP: Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven – including the audio of Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven stream, mastered for vinyl.
“Kvitravn itself is an album I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time,” says Wardruna’s Einar Selvik (back in March 2020) of Kvitravn, the powerful new album by Norway’s atmospheric weavers of tales, issued worldwide on 21 January 2021. “For me, this album points out more clearly than ever what has been the ultimate goal or motivation of Wardruna since the beginning – taking old thoughts that still carry relevance and creating something new with them.” Einar explains further…
“Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven is an audio-visual ‘live-in-studio’ recording that was broadcasted online, as the release show of the Kvitravn album. It was recorded in a time when it was not allowed to perform in front of an audience, which made it very important for me that the recording itself truly captured the energy of a live performance. What you hear, is what we performed in that moment in that room. No re-recordings or autotune was done in the afterwork. Just like for a regular concert, the set list was carefully put together with a selection of songs from all our albums, including a handful songs from the new album, which we performed for the very first time. On the day of recording, we all stood together in the same room for the first time in over a year. Everyone came focused and well prepared and the energy felt like no time had passed. I hope you will agree!”
Kvitravn translates as “white raven” which, as Einar puts it, is also his artist name. “The raven is an animal I have a totemic relationship with, which is why I chose that for myself,” he explains. “But although this album is in a sense more personal and more down to earth than before, it is also quite obscure. I delve into the philosophical, the esoteric, the Nordic myths and how these old traditions define human nature and nature itself. So the white raven was not chosen as the title because of my name, but more due to the ideas which inspired me to take that name in the first place.”
As both Kvitravn and the live-in-studio album Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven unfold, age-old Nordic instruments such as the goat- horn, Kravik-lyre, and the taglharpa sustain the journey. Vocals soar, hanging in the air like mist coating mountaintops and valleys alike. This is a realm where, on Kvitravn album opener Synkverv, a harp draws a traveler into the heart of a mountain, an experience bringing a new sense of understanding. There is, of course, the Kvitravn who offers guidance. The Skugge shows that answers to what is the truth may lie within.
Then, there is the wolf of Grá, a reminder that humans and creatures have existed side-by-side in a mutual, though wary, relationship. Indeed, a wolflike spirit accompanies the narrator in Fylgjutal. Munin – one of the Norse God Odin’s watchful ravens – is in flight, a Kvit hjort is encountered and songs spring from the environment Viseveiding.
Progress through the ritual invocation of Ni and Vindavlarljod’s interplay of song, the wind and the landscape leads to Andvevarljod where the album culminates with a plea to nine norns, the female presences who regulate destiny.
“The lyrics are very important,” stresses Einar. “Kvitravn is inspired by oral traditions, an oral culture. In an oral society, words, poetry and even runes, where it was written, had a great power. I find the traditions of old Norse poetry thought provoking and inspirational. The truth was not served on a platter but through questions, riddles, and abstract images. They allow you to put multiple meanings into things, which leaves a lot of room for listeners to find their own meanings.”
He discloses one meaning though. In the context of the Kvitravn album, the wolf is a messenger from nature, from mother nature. Predators have a value, and if it has a value, it has a cost. Allowing them to roam has cost for us, but the value of them roaming is greater. It’s not healthy to feel untouchable, like we want to do today. The problems we get from messing with ecosystems, all these imbalances. We do lots of things to try and fix it but not the obvious thing which is to make the ecosystem complete.
While nothing is necessarily obvious with Wardruna, the years since 2009’s debut album Runaljod – gap var Ginnunga have seen increasing international success. Runaljod – Yggdrasil came in 2013 and was followed in 2016 by Runaljod – Ragnarok. Each was part of a trilogy, with individual songs inspired by one of the 24 characters of the Elder Futhark, the earliest runic alphabet in which each character symbolises a specific trait as well as a letter and spoken sound. Runaljod – Ragnarok climbed to the top spot in America on Billboard’s World Music charts and did so in Canada too. In 2018, the low key, live-in-the-studio Skald was released. For Wardruna’s fourth album, Einar had taken a similar approach to his solo shows with a stripped-back, intimate sound.
From its beginning in 2002, Wardruna drew from Einar’s absorption in Norway’s pre-Christian culture. He grew up north of Bergen on the island Osterøy and began reading about runes and Nordic history in his early teens, and soon came to the idea of making his own music in sympathy with what he was learning. Following years of working with various metal bands, the need to follow his own musical vision grew and Einar increasingly plunged into the Nordic world’s traditional music.
“It is not Norwegian folk music I am doing,” he states. “But there are definitely many elements in Wardruna which can be traced to Nordic traditional music, both in vocal and instrumental tonality and techniques. Primarily, I believe these are elements, which originated in times before what is normally defined as traditional music. Although my aim is not necessarily to copy or recreate music from any specific time period, I aim to start from solid ground before venturing into the creative and intuitive processes. My approach is multidisciplinary, with a scholarly application to primary sources along with my own knowledge and experience as a performing musician, poet and practitioner.”
The combination of Einar’s deep knowledge – he has lectured in academic settings on the old Norse world and its music – and his hands-on approach attracted the attention of the creators of the History Channel’s TV series Vikings. From its second series, in 2014, Einar came on board as co-composer alongside the show´s main composer Trevor Morris and worked on the programme up to its fifth series, which aired in 2019. He even appeared on-screen in a couple of episodes.
Ever-busy, there was also 2016’s Skuggsjá – A Piece for Mind & Mirror where Einar and Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved fashioned a chronicle of Norway for the anniversary of its constitution and, the next year, the intense Snake Pit Poetry release, credited as an Einar Selvik solo project.
Einar contributed music for the official soundtrack of the game franchise Assassin’s Creed Valhalla® alongside the BAFTA Award-winning Danish composer Jesper Kyd (Assassin’s Creed, Ezio Trilogy) and American composer Sarah Schachner (Assassin’s Creed Origins), released worldwide on November 17, 2020 by Lakeshore Records in partnerhip with Ubisoft, followed by numerous collections of unreleased music and acoustic tracks from Einar Selvik in connection with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla® (also released by Lakeshore Records in partnership with Ubisoft) between November 2020 and December 2021.
Throughout, Einar has been very protective of his music. He explains, “I don’t compromise my art. No one on the outside has any say. That is something I would never give away, even an inch.” All Wardruna’s releases were issued on independent labels, including his own imprint, ByNorse Music. Kvitravn and Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven are released by Music For Nations/Sony Music/Columbia Germany/ByNorse Music. “The people at Sony saw that what we are doing has a value which needs to be treated differently to a lot of other music projects,” reveals Einar, saying the new approach is a practical thing. “It was the right time to take it one step further. It’s been on my mind for a long time. I’m very happy I’m working with people who understand Wardruna.”
The lack of any restrictions is confirmed by Kvitravn’s length. Wardruna’s albums have all been long, and the new album is no exception. “I never plan the length of an album,” he laughs. “Economically, it would make sense to make a single vinyl!”
Lindy-Fay Hella is a constant both in the studio and on stage but, again confirming the autonomy, there are the album’s guests. On Kvitravn’s climax “Andvevarljod,” she and Einar are joined by the eminent traditional singer Kirsten Bråten Berg, and her daughter Sigrid. The similarly significant multi-instrumentalist Unni Løvlid also appears, alongside the more-recently fêted vocalist Ingebjørg Lognvik Reinholdt. Regular Wardruna collaborator, the Goat’s horn and willow flute player Eilif Gundersen is also present on the album.
For Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven live-in-studio experience, Einar assembled a slightly different cast of musicians, the line-up listed below:
Einar Selvik: Vocals, Lyre, Taglharpa, Flute, Goat horn, Lur, Drums, Percussion
Lindy-Fay Hella: Vocals
Eilif Gundersen: Lur, Goat horn, Flute, Backing Vocals
Arne Sandvoll: Percussion, Backing vocals
Hans Christian Dalgaard: Drums, Percussion, Backing vocals
John Stenersen: Moraharpe, Backing Vocals
Katrine Stenbekk: Vocals
Pondering such partnerships, Einar explains, the creative concept of Wardruna has never changed. The subject, the themes of the song, decide what is needed – the singers, the instruments, the sounds. Whatever feels right is right.
Asked how he will approach bringing Kvitravn to audiences he pauses. After a few beats, he says, “The album is a visual soundscape. The instruments fit into a very grandiose soundscape. The music suits a very simple, atmospheric visual side.” He laughs again. “It will sound very big.”
This is exactly the intention of what fans will be able to experience on this new release of Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven.
Rescheduled Wardruna live dates shall now commence in March 2022, starting in the UK and taking in some grand concert halls and spaces. Go HERE for full listings. About the tour Einar comments “It has been more than two years since we last gave a performance in front of an audience. Needless to say, this long and unwanted hibernation has made us very exited to finally be able to realistically plan our return to the stage.”
Wardruna’s Kvitravn is out now worldwide and available in various bundles and formats HERE.
Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven (2022)
Kvitravn (White Raven)
Fylgjutal (Speech of the Fylgja)
Kvit hjort (White Stag)
Vindavlarljod (Song of the wind-bred)
Andvevarljod (Song of the Spirit-weavers)
Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven LIVE (2022)
Rotlaust Tre Fell