“We live in a time abounding with opportunity, self-realisation and pressure to perform. It can be hard to navigate, to find a landing site in this insecure and unsettling world. Cherry Blossoms is about the joy you experience when you believe that you’ve found a landing site – even if it is different to what you expected.” – Ane Bjerkan
I’ve become accustomed to hearing Norwegian singer/songwriter Ane Bjerkan’s voice float across the soundscapes of Østfrost, the Trondheim based band which she has fronted for some years. So, it comes as both an interesting and refreshing change to hear how she has reshaped that rich and textured vocal, adapting it to the new, uncharted landscape of her sole creation. Unsurprisingly, that dreamily melodic and quietly confident voice has acclimatised perfectly to Ane’s pensively evocative music.
Ane Bjerkan decided several months ago to follow her instincts, taking that ever daunting leap of faith which saw her decamp for several weeks to Ocean Sound Recordings on the island of Giske. There she worked with producers Kenneth Ishak (Beezewax) and Marcus ‘Bror’ Forsgren (Jaga Jazzist, Gold Celeste), on material for her upcoming debut solo album due early Autumn, from which her single Cherry Blossoms is the lead track.
Where the black shadows of the Aksla mountains meet the magical iridescence of the North Sea, Ane’s music is imbued with a sense of propinquity and peaceful serenity seldom heard
Working with a small but diverse group of artisan musicians, Bjerkan was able to dip into an eclectic treasure trove of instruments including cello, saxophone and synths. Although Ane’s trademark Indian Harmonium takes centre stage, it never dominates the score. Neither does it consume a vocal which cleverly pushed to the fore, hovers effortlessly above the songs slow-tempoed melodic strains.
Ane Bjerkan’s sounds feature folk and pop flavoured with jazz, delivered with lovely, soulful vocals and evocative melodies. A pastoral underpinned by bass-harmonium muddled with cello, Cherry Blossoms is beautifully ornamented with jewel-like prisms of synth that emulate the ticking of a clock. While the song has incredible depth and a multiplicity of textures it seems at times to be somewhat concealed in half-shadows. The introduction midway through of a gorgeous sax solo adds a golden, illuminating warmth that lifts the track into a more optimistic realm – the joyous arrival at the ‘landing site’.
Cherry Blossoms is a heartfelt, beautiful mix of joyful, introspective and melancholy. Wrap your ears around it soon.
Cherry Blossoms is out now via Pisco Records. Ane will be hosting a release party from 6pm in Mono, Oslo on 22nd April. For further details on both the single and event see Ane’s Facebook page. DervSwerve