August 20, 2021 — While the wedge of isolation has long continued to separate artists and audiences, it is time once again to indulge in the ritual of live music; that innately tribal experience of connection through the power of sound between the skalds and the tribesmen. The hotly anticipated live show for ‘Ritual’ by Shamano-Norse folk outfit NYTT LAND delivers.
It has been a very different couple of years with many musicians attempting to bring some of the energy of live music to the digital world by any means available. This necessity even goes for those hoping to revive the tribal cultures of the past on the stages of the present, with Anatoly “Shaman” Pahkenkoto explaining in a recent interview with Kurgan Compass™ that “A lot of work has been done to convey the sound of the live Ritual as high as possible so that together with us you can feel this primal, wild energy of a real shamanic rite and its indescribable atmosphere.”
With bold words to live up to, the stream begins with some striking digitally animated visuals before opening to the drums of ‘Ragnarök’, and the duality that is stirring melody of the tagelharpa and the intimidating, growling bass of Anatoly’s Siberian kargyraa overtone singing, in a dramatic staging of the song — which is taken from NYTT LAND’s 2018 release ODAL.
‘Valhalla Rising’, lifted from 2020’s CVLT continues the build of the atmospheric tribal energy NYTT LAND possesses in spades. While “Shaman” took the fore with his vocal presence, Natasha “Baba Yaga” Pahlenkoto soars by adding powerful melody between the pairs more guttural techniques.
The track ‘Fenris Kinder’ also finds the couple pairing their overtone styles while rounding out percussion with a live drummer and the hollow clacking of struck deer antlers, eventually closing this act of the performance with a single drawn-out tone
A Prayerful Pause
After this, the Ritual begins in force with the title track and opener of the new release with the same name, a forceful, primordially charged experience to behold, particularly at the height of Natasha’s melodic but undulating tones that are forceful yet stirring. ‘The Fires of Ragnarök’ sees the two descend into bassy dark depths of primal energy, continuing the recital of their imposing new album before skipping forward to the next song, ‘U-Gra’.
While the stave-daubed banners, totem draped stage, and the band’s own traditional shamanic garb are captivating, there is an absorbing sense of pace to the performance, as several tracks come to a close with an atmospheric drone, taking a serene breath between the bursts of transcendental fervor evoked by NYTT LAND throughout the show. The up-close, shaky camerawork is well-planned, and almost percussive zooms pull you right into the heart of the performance come ceremony, with sharply cut moments, like ‘Gróttasöngr’ build to a gallop, finding this photographic theatricality put to good use with further jump cuts.
‘Blood of the North’ provides Anatoly ample opportunity to showcase his tagelharpa skills while ‘Svartravn’, one of the Sibero-Scandinavian key cross-cultural moments on the new album, takes us upwards, vocally, once more. As the black raven takes flight so do its melodies, amid the surges of beating drums and layered overtone throat-singing, flying towards the close of the performance,
There is something to be said for the solemnity that comes with the absence of an audience, particularly when the performance moves apace, albeit with pauses for brief contemplation in atmospheric streams such as this. NYTT LAND’s digital live show debut saw them perform with skill and utterly immersed devotion in a well-shot, engrossing experience that makes the most of a confined, limited stage area. With the kind of energy NYTT LAND exudes in all their stillness, there is no need for any further bombast to drive the uncanny presence home. All that is needed for the mind to take flight is the power of song, performance, and arms raised to the sky.
Ritual is out now on Napalm Records where a vinyl release and new merch can be obtained. The new album can also be purchased or streamed from NYTT LAND’s Bandcamp page. We have added our favorite songs to the Kurgan Compass™ Spotify playlist — reserved only for the best, newly released neofolk music.
NYTT LAND’s Live Ritual 2021 is available to stream in full below. Also, NYTT LAND will be touring Europe with artists Korpiklaani, EQUILIBRIUM, and Jonne from late September through October later this year.