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Friday, February 20, 2015

"Black Lake Nidstång" by Agalloch

When my weather app is telling me it's 2 degrees out but feels like negative 18 degrees, the only band I want to listen to in this situation is Agalloch. The dark, icy moods their music conveys is practically made for the coldest of winter days.  The album I'd be most inclined to get lost in would be their 2010 gem, Marrow of the Spirit.  Full of rich texture, dark imagery, and sparse beauty, this is the most atmospheric album in their masterful catalog.

I'm hard pressed to choose an absolute favorite Agalloch song.  They have too many slices of sheer perfection to choose from (good problem to have, right?).  But put a gun to my head and make me choose, I'm going to go with "Black Lake Nidstång", the 17+ minute centerpiece from Marrow.

Each listen to this song is a journey through pitch black darkness with equal parts beauty. The images this song conjures up in my mind are as strong as reading a richly detailed fantasy novel. I picture myself walking through a forest. It's cold. No, it's freezing. It's 2 AM and I can't see. I have to feel my way through the trees. Each time I step on a branch and hear the crack, I panic and move along quicker. Where I'm headed I do not know. After walking for an hour, I finally arrive at my destination. A massive lake in the middle of the forest stares back at me with its black eyes. It's pissed off, it doesn't want me there, it screams at me to turn around and leave. I stand there frozen in a daze for what seems like hours.  The spell is finally broken and I'm able to move.  So eventually I leave, and I have a beautiful walk back, because though it's still freezing cold out, it's now 6 AM, the sun is beginning to rise, and I can see once again.

I can express many different reasons for loving Agalloch, but it's experiences such as these that continue to draw me to them. That music can be as strong a visual art as film or fiction novels is something I never really knew until I began listening to them.  Go on, take a journey through this track, get lost in it, create your own imagery.