REVIEW: Tid by Fedrespor

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Tid, Norwegian for “Time,” is Varg Torden Saastad’s answer to the platitude that “time heals all wounds,” triggered by his processing of the untimely death of a sibling. As the promotional copy puts it: “If only it was so easy as to let the slow, relentless sands of time wash away the pain. The loss of a sibling is a razor sharp pain that time alone often fails to dull. And so we have Fedrespor; the manifestation of the insatiable grief that has gnawed away at creator Varg Torden Saastad since the passing of his brother.”

Numerous field recordings of rain, wind, and birds texture Tid. Guitar and bass slowly wind their way through sparse chords and ostinato patterns, piano adding subdued strains in the upper register without many low notes to add support. Saastad wails through his grief, often times wordlessly. When lyrics do show up on the song “Gripedyr,” Saastad’s voice is shaky and unstable, the verge of tears successfully transferred to tape.

This can be a fairly tough record to listen to, as it unapologetically wears its creator’s intense grief.

Just as the cycle of loss often includes more wistful reminiscing, “Unknown Self” has a softer, bittersweet feeling to it, the guitar lines dripping with nostalgia. “Takk,” Norwegian for “thanks,” has a similar feeling to it with the guitars no longer weighted by bereavement, though Saastad’s singing still has a mournful howling tone to it, especially in his upper range when he sings without words.

A common compositional element in this record is a steady, repetitious motive like the ticking of a clock. The guitar ostinati, the drum hitting every major beat, a steady and unending march of time. This is seen most in a track like “Evigdom,” which if my google translate skills are up to par means something like “eternal verdict.” Percussion, guitars, and piano all pound away with regularity while Saastad plays bukkehorn, which has a low, earthy lowing sound to it. Cadences frequently end on dissonances and unresolved chords, perhaps the most helpless-feeling track on the record.

The title track is the final one on this record, and like “Evigdom,” guitar relentlessly pushes everything forward with its repeated pattern, which fades away rather than resolving at the end. The entire record is left without an actual ending, but rather than a lack of compositional skill, I think this was most likely a deliberate choice by Saastad to show that the pain of loss doesn’t fade away so easily.

The second theme Saastad works through with this record is the idea of understanding his place in the universe after tragedy has made everything feel so inconsequential. When fueled by tragedy it’s easy to turn to an unhealthy form of nihilism in reaction to such a question. While I can’t speak to the conclusions Saastad came to, I can say it sounds in many places like he used his art to come to a place of understanding in regards to these dilemmas of the human condition, a place more at peace. The hurt is still there, of course it is, but it’s been turned into something constructive but unanswered.

Fedrespor is out digitally and on CD through Nordvis Records.

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