Viewpoint

Viewpoint #3 – Jody Worth

Screenplay Writer – TV Producer Jody Worth
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On Hidden Soul of the Fjords by Lazerus Winter And Heidi Torsvik
by Jody Worth

There’s an old hit song, in which the opening line allows, “Well, I’ve never been to Spain, but I kind of like the music.”  Well, I’ve never been to Norway. The closest I’ve been to taking in the majesty of the fjords is through an episode of Travel Man:48 Hours in which Richard Ayoade visits Bergen and embarks on a cruise through the surrounding topography.  Still, when we began to write the television series Deadwood, I’d never been to the Dakotas, but was able to imagine I had until I did actually visit. Of course, a lot of consumers of art will have no prior experience of its subject either, which is a big part of the point: to tell a story.

Which is a long-winded preamble to discussing  Lazerus Winter’s new recorded suite Hidden Soul of the Fjords. One funny thing: while I have never known the fjords, I have known composer/musician Winter for forty-odd years, since the days when we recorded and performed rock and roll music together. So, while I believe I can imagine the geographical splendor invoked by these four musical pieces, I can attest with confidence how strongly they evoke the deep inner warmth of their composer.

Bob Dylan recently recorded a song  he titled “I Contain Multitudes.” While Dylan’s lyric is in part tongue in cheek, Fjords’ initial movement “Presence,” serves earnestly as an opening tour of aspects of its composer’s beautiful soul. Unlike a formal overture, which previews musical themes to be repeated,  “Presence” offers a survey of various discrete “feels,” (as Brian Wilson called his musical modules —  before the term was abused by marketing people), opening up the ears and minds of the listener for what is to follow.

What follows immediately is something Winter calls “Beneath the Surface Touch the Sky,” introducing into the mix a mass of female vocals, which express the duality suggested by the title by evoking at once both the ethereal and the earthly.

I’m in!

This would seem like an appropriate time to mention that all of the vocals, at times as many as 500 separate voices, were performed and arranged by Heidi Torsvik, aka Heidi Goodbye, ex-teen jazz prodigy, solo artist, perhaps best known to critics for her work on Spiritual Non Believers, the 2011 debut album by Bergen group “The Last Hurrah!!”

In “Shining Darkness”, Torsvik’s intonations are pared to a single, lovely voice. Darkness is an oft-used (overused?) metaphor. Par exemple, In his 1973 song “Time,” when David Bowie sings of “shining through this darkness,” it’s nominally a reference to the dark a performer waits in backstage, but also a metaphor for loneliness and, moreover, death. In contrast, while I understand no Norwegian, and can’t speak directly to the lyrics, I suspect that the “shining darkness” invoked in Winter’s song is literal, as in when the opposite side of the world is facing the sun. If it is also meant to evoke the unknown, the darkness seems to be faced blissfully and without fear.

The final section is the longest, its title broken down into sections: ” Heart (Trees That Whisper/Reflections/Heart).”  The plaintive, soothing, opening part is carried again by Torsvik’s voice (here doubled), following which the singing and instruments give way (a bit like in dub or a DJ’s bass drop) to the literal sound of an electronic heartbeat. This basic expression is soon picked up and built-on rhythmically in almost hip-hop fashion, adding instruments, gathering in various exquisite colors, and eventually exploding  into a dynamic section of Winter’s extroverted, liquid lead guitar. Reaching its apex, the final section again recalls the voices that ease the build down to help carry us out on a cloud.

In sum, the sounds are deep and lovely, like the subject matter they evoke. Varied, dynamic, and multi-dimensional.

You owe yourself a good listen.

Los Angeles  10.2020

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