Like Burzum's earlier Daudi Baldrs, 1999’s Hlidskjalf is an instrumental album that was originally presented with a series of images and texts referring to Norse mythology. Like that preceding album, Hlidskjalf was recorded on synthesizer while Varg Vikernes was serving prison time. Yet despite Varg’s limited resources, Hlidskjalf has a completely different atmosphere than the album it follows. It's much more lush and dynamic, but at the same time it's more concise and less reliant on repetition. Clearly, Varg had sharpened his instrumental sensibilities in the intervening years. Though it clocks in at just more than 30 minutes, the album manifests an environment unto itself. Some songs are reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtracks for David Lynch, while other pieces—like the twinkling “Frijos” themes and the crystalline closer, “Der Weinende Hadnur”—echo elements of Indonesian gamelan and Japanese gagaku. Intensely contemplative and often soothing, Hlidskjalf makes no attempt to separate notions of fear and evil from notions of tranquility. Varg produces darker, more complex feelings with a few notes on keyboard.

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