This morning I awoke to a pleasant surprise of finding that Simen Mitlid had released a new album, titled Birds; or, Stories from Charlie B’s Travels From Grønland to the Sun, and Back Again. Fumbling around in my stupor, I quickly purchased the album, paying 50 Krone (Norwegian currency) on Venmo. I wasn’t expecting the album, but I had been hoping to hear more from this Norwegian artist since I first hear him in April. I have been deeply enjoying the album this morning, and I’m certain this one will be on spin for a while.
Simen Mitlid is a songwriter from Oslo, who writes incredibly beautiful dream folk songs, capitalizing on the art of subtlety to create an immense dreamscape. He mixes sounds of guitar, banjo, strings, tape warped piano, brass, and organ with unassuming synth sounds and electronic beats (along with acoustic percussion). He tightly layers his vocals, passing them through a narrow EQ, and softens them with reverb. The album features Tuvaband, an artist who was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy, and label mate Benedikt, a Norwegian band who has a similar sound as Mitlid. The Oslo Hostel Choir appear on Recurring Dreams, carrying the song onto an elevated plane.
Preceding this album, Simen released five singles throughout the past seven months, beginning in March with the release of Weeks. This song pulls the elements you hear on the album into one song, with an emotionally stirring chorus. Birds was the second single, and this song set the theme of the album, reflected in the brilliant collage-styled art, designed by Kristoffer Eidsnes. The album doesn’t sound like a collection of singles, but instead has thematic intentionality and cohesion.
“And I can’t believe I’m so scared.Simen Mitlid: Anything (Bandcamp)
And I don’t believe in anything, anymore.”
The album opens with Last of Us, and begins with a memory of when he was ten years old. “So this is where I found out how we’re surviving…” The luscious sound slowly builds and carries the listener throughout the album.
Birds; or, Stories from Charlie B’s Travels From Grønland to the Sun, and Back Again becomes more brilliant with every listen as you digest the songs, sounds, and the movement between the tracks. Grønland closes the album, and references a community in Oslo, the most ethnically diverse place in Scandinavia. It’s here that the album’s journey begins, and it’s here the album returns.
“Took five hundred yearsSimen Mitlid: Birds (Bandcamp)
to find something to believe in…”
Simen released this album through what appears to be a collective called Koke Plate and Koke Bok (translates: Cook Plate and Cook Book) that Simen runs with Kristian Notland Harnes. Koke Plate has been releasing albums from various Norwegian artists since 2010, releasing Mitlid’s first EP in 2013. Simen released Birds; or, Stories from Charlie B’s Travels From Grønland to the Sun, and Back Again this morning, expressing an eagerness to begin his fourth album immediately. He wrote, “I look forward to playing all these songs live one day. In the meantime, I’m starting a new album, see you soon!”
Simen Mitlid links: