Hey, wasn’t I just saying that I’m really interested in how countries and landscapes shape the people who live in them and, thus, the music that is created there? While Norway might not be a new country for me to check off my list, I always find it interesting that there is something intangible that ties all genres of music from a particular place to that place, whether it’s death metal or jazz or electronic music or whatever you like. In the case of Marius Leirånes, that place is a very specific one, and the stories told on Langtidsperspektiv are the stories of what has shaped him to this day and how that home has played a part in it all.
Marius Leirånes is best known as a member of the Norwegian prog rock band Pixie Ninja. Langtidsperspektiv (literally “long time perspective”) marks his first foray into solo work, and while there are bits of progressive elements thrown in there as one would expect, the album reads much more as a work of post-rock than anything else. More important than the genre, though, is the thought process behind the album and the story it tells, which has much more bearing on the sound than Leirånes deciding what genre the music belongs in. Langtidsperspektiv is the stories and events from the past of the Leirånes family farm, located in Rana, near the Arctic Circle. This farm has been in the Leirånes family for generations, and through it all it has seen a lot of ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs and a whole lot of change. To tell these stories, Leirånes the man utilizes a base of electronica sprinkled with ambient and post-rock sensibilities, and while he is the principal songwriter and plays most of the instruments, he is joined by a rather large cohort of Norwegian contemporaries adding in strings and woodwinds, guitars and electronics and even assistance with production. It’s a real passion project, but it’s good to see that Leirånes didn’t try to tackle it alone. I think that speaks to something fundamental about history and family: it’s something that’s meant to be shared, and there’s something sweet about Leirånes letting so many friends help tell his family’s stories.
Norwegian music tends to get categorized as cold, brutal and melancholy, and to a certain extent that tracks, but there is a lot more there. Especially for Rana, whose location so close to the Arctic means that for six months of the year the sun never sets and the other half is in complete darkness, there is a lot more nuance to the emotions that run through the country and become filtered out in the music. Langtidsperspektiv does a great job of showcasing that through the perspective of someone who is intimately familiar with the landscape and countryside. Across the five tracks that make up Langtidsperspektiv, Leirånes makes good use of space, ambience and hypnotic repetition to build up emotion slowly, subtly changing little aspects in the background until you realize you’re fully immersed in the story. The songs themselves are deceptively simple in that one. On first listen, a lot of focus will be on the repeating pattern of the melodies, but a close listen will reveal all the intricacies that are in place. These intricacies come from a place of love and attention to detail, and it is immediately apparent when listening to Langtidsperspektiv just how much this farm and this place mean to Leirånes.
Langtidsperspektiv might not be a post-rock album in the traditional GSY!BE or Explosions in the Sky style, but it carries with it the hallmarks of slow building, emotionally deep music that speaks from the heart. More importantly, it does my favorite thing any piece of art does: it makes me homesick for a place I’ve never been. Here’s hoping the world gets a little better every day so that one day I can get out and see these places that I’ve spent so long only hearing about.