Ideologic Organ to reissue Svartedauen, When’s Black Death album

Ideologic Organ to reissue Svartedauen, When's Black Death album

Lars Pedersen, the Norwegian experimentalist behind art-rock outfit When, has announced the reissue of his 1992 landmark LP Svartedauen. Inspired by Theodor Kittelsen’s similarly titled collection of drawings, the album chronicles the Bubonic Plague’s deathly foray into Medieval Norway. You may recognize Kittelsen’s illustrations from Burzum’s or Satyricon’s albums, but the black metal link goes deeper than that. Released in the height of the “Black Metal Summer,” if When’s previous albums had already struck a chord with young Norwegian metalheads (1988’s Death in the Blue Lake was sampled by Satyricon), Svartedauen became the sombre inspiration Varg Virkenes and his cohorts were looking for. Or, as the press release so cleverly puts it, the LP that stands as “the missing link between Arne Nordheim and Mayhem.”

Born into a family professionally involved in music, Lars Pedersen has been composing and performing since his childhood. After partaking in Norway’s early punk scene, Pedersen founded Holy Toy along Andrej Nebb. Active during the 1980s, the duo explored the fringes of post-punk and industrial noise, releasing a handful of memorable albums. Since 1987, Pedersen has also been producing music under the When moniker; essentially a solo outlet for his most eccentric ideas. Influenced by the European twentieth-century avant-garde, Norwegian folk music, noise, and RIO, When recorded several conceptually ambitious albums, adapting a psychological horror novel, homaging Hyeronimus Bosch, and spoofing Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. Nevertheless, Svartedauen is a beast of its own and perhaps the best realization of Pedersen’s aesthetics. Masterfully combining dark ambient passages with cut-ups that recall musique concrète, mixing industrial beats and the abject mood of power electronics with religious chants… if you’re familiar with Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, you know the flagellant procession is its most powerful scene. Sharing the film’s theme and mood, you can believe me when I tell you Pedersen’s album would provide an even better-fitting soundtrack to it than “Dies Irae.”

Svartedauen, When’s 38-minute invokation of the Black Death, will be out on May 25 via Ideologic Organ. You can stream an excerpt below.

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