The fictitious tour of far-away lands continues, as anonymous artist Glåsbird follows the scratchy, folk-ambience of Norskfjǫrðr with a return to lonely arctic-island sounds. Novaya Zemlya is a Russian-owned island, stretching from just off the mainland between the Kara and Barents seas, with two islands split by the Matochkin Strait.
The Southern island Yuzhny is the home of a few inhabitants whereas the Northern counterpart Severny is pretty much all glacier. The added complication of sea-ice during Arctic winters have made certain parts of this land very difficult to navigate. There are accounts stretching back to the 16th century when explorer Willem Barentsz died on an expedition and his body is rumoured to have been buried on Severny.
Into more recent times, Novaya Zemlya has been a sensitive military area throughout the cold war as well as a nuclear testing site. In 1961 the world’s most powerful nuclear weapon was detonated, the ‘Tsar Bomba’.
In this album, Glåsbird composes a soundtrack which transcends the years of history, combining themes of explorers and Barentsz’s tragic demise, isolation, climate change and polar bears, underpinned by radio broadcasts to give a slightly unsettling undercurrent, hinting back to the cold war. The track Vanya is named after a code name the Russians had for the Tsar Bomba detonation project and this piece sits at the centre of this album, in some of the most dramatic soundtrack work this artist has made to date.
The cover artwork and bonus images within the CD packaging were taken by photographer Uliana Prokhorova, who visited a few locations on the island. As always, this album uses the sounds, photography and track titles to build an imaginary soundtrack in your mind as you listen and immerse yourself in this latest sonic exploration.
released September 26, 2020
Written and produced by Glåsbird
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Photography by Uliana Prokhorova