Editors’ Notes Swedish singer-songwriter Jonathan Hultén first rose to prominence as the balletic lead guitarist for goth metal phenoms Tribulation in the 2010s. But there’s another side to his musical personality—first revealed on his 2017 EP The Dark Night of the Soul—that favors quiet introspection and intricately picked acoustic guitars laced with gorgeously layered vocal harmonies and a deep reverence for nature. On his first proper solo album, Chants From Another Place, Hultén finds thematic inspiration in the comparative mythology of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces—and just a touch of David Lynch. Bottom line? It’s a far cry from his more bombastic work with Tribulation. “The album title itself is a reference to the Man From Another Place from Twin Peaks,” Hultén tells Apple Music. “But what I wanted to communicate is that it’s from a special place within. There’s a certain quietness, stillness, and almost a meditative quality to that inspiration that has not been able to come out previously in the metal or rock channel.” Below, Hultén guides us through his own version of the hero’s journey.

A Dance in the Road
“That song is probably the one that stands out the most in terms of the general feel—it’s the only one that doesn't have a tone of melancholy and sadness in it. It’s filled with almost like a joy or an ecstasy. It's about giving yourself up to the impulse of dance and of art and just becoming one with that. It's sort of like a celebration song. It's beyond dancing, when you have given yourself up to the moonlight and what's beyond that.”

The Mountain
“‘The Mountain’ is a small tale of hope and despair and transformation. So it really has this narrative almost like the hero's journey. You go from one place and you experience certain things and it changes you. When you get to the other side, you’re another person. It’s a tale of death in reverse, in a sense. A little Joseph Campbell there.”

Next Big Day
“This is one of the older songs. The melody has been with me for a very, very long time, since I was about 22 or 23. There was this feeling of not having done what I should have done with my life, although it had only just started as an adult. I felt I was just stuck in this little part of the world and I haven't been doing my all in order to reach or develop into what I should. It's a feeling of being self-restrained and procrastinating, in a sense, and feeling stuck. It's a bit sad in that sense.”

The Call to Adventure
“The title is obviously a Joseph Campbell reference as well. The Hero With a Thousand Faces is really good, but actually the Campbell reference came later—after I realized what the lyric was about. It’s also one of the older songs, written around the same era as ‘Next Big Day,’ in the time when life as an adult was just starting. But instead of procrastinating and feeling inhibited as in ‘Next Big Day,’ you feel anguish about it and start to follow your dream instead. You start to be empowered by it and even embrace the horrors that lie ahead; you’re looking forward to it because it will be an adventure.”

Wasteland
“The wasteland is the darkest pit you have to wander through on the journey of your life. I see it as a desert, like a barren landscape where nothing grows, but it’s a landscape that you have inside of yourself. You're left alone in it and you have to walk those miles through it until the dawn comes. With the new dawn, you might experience new hope. It’s basically the ‘dark night of the soul,’ the meaning of that phrase. Unless it breaks you, it makes you stronger when you come out on the other side. I guess we all experience this at different periods in our lives—depressions and rough times generally.”

Outskirts
“This is the only track with drums on it, and it’s also one of the two songs without vocals. It’s also the one with the most other instruments. It was actually written when we were writing material for [Tribulation’s 2018 album] Down Below. We thought it didn’t really fit Tribulation’s context. It didn’t really feel dark enough. But I really felt there was something that resonated in the song, so I took it under my wings and made it into something else.”

Holy Woods
“I would say this is the song that's, personally, the most conceptually important. It's the basic foundation of Chants—three vocal tracks and one guitar. As I said earlier, the meditative calmness, the stillness, that sort of inspiration—that is ‘Holy Woods’ in its entirety. It's a crystallized form. When I think of that sound, it's a chant and it's almost like a prayer to nature and to the forest. It’s a sense of reverence and appreciation and just stillness.”

Where Devils Weep
“This is one of the more simple songs on the record. The structure is maybe not so strange as the other songs. What the song is about is another story: ‘Where Devils Weep’ is like an [extension] of ‘Wasteland’ and ‘The Call to Adventure,’ where you face your fears and you’re engulfed in darkness but you have found a way to counter that and integrate it into yourself so it doesn’t hurt you anymore. It also has the theme of letting things go. It’s about maturing or changing your viewpoint and being able to figure out what’s really important and what’s not so important. It’s about becoming free, on a personal level and artistically, and that’s one of the motivations that drives me.”

The Fleeting World
“I'm a big fan of a lot of pianists and I spent a lot of time just sitting by the piano writing music—actually, a lot of music in Tribulation and even Chants was written on piano first. But I felt I wanted to do something with piano, and the name of the song is from ukiyo-e, the Japanese woodprints. So the feeling you get in this song, as the title describes, is from a third-person perspective of seeing how the world is passing by you through the ages and you’re there to observe. Sort of an out-of-body experience where time flows through your fingers. And it’s beautiful as you see it happening.”

Ostbjorka Brudlat
“Östbjörka is a place in Sweden and ‘brudlat’ means bride song. This is the one song I didn’t write myself. It’s a cover from a violinist, a fiddler. I heard a version of this song being played on the radio and I was so inspired by the mysterious, almost troll-ish or folklore-ish feel to it. That version was played with a fiddle and organ, and I figured maybe if I did an a cappella version of this with just three voices, that would be something pretty interesting and fun—and hopefully good. Then I contacted the fiddler himself and sent it to him to make sure he would be okay with it, that I’m not destroying his song. He was okay with it.”

The Roses
“This is a song about trying to find a balance and a unification between the themes that we have previously explored in the album, and joining these elements into a synthesis that makes it feel more whole. As a metaphor, you have, for example, the more obvious ones—the joining of the sun and the moon, day and night, a unification of opposites. It’s also a story about how it’s not always easy to reach a conclusion, but that’s the journey. We’re on the journey all the time.”

Deep Night
“I have images in my head for each song, but this image for ‘Deep Night’ is kind of a special one because it's a scene that I seem to return to a lot in my mind and I'm always longing for that place. Imagine yourself being in the woods at night maybe with two other people standing around the campfire and you can hear the night sounds around you and you can see the stars in the sky. There’s this sense of something immortal in the moment and you feel like you’re somewhere where time doesn’t exist—that sense of quietness and being one with nature. I put this song last because it leaves things open after all of these things that you have been through thematically, lyrically, and the moods of the songs—and you end up in a place where it all started and the possibilities are endless. So I guess it’s a cliffhanger for the next album.”

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