Words by Andreas Schiffmann
This is dark music that dodges the usual traps, coming across as neither pseudo-evil nor faux melancholy. Kontinuum’s weightless yet substantial sound has always revolved around the voice of multi-instrumentalist and musical director Birgir Þorgeirsson, whose vocal chords arguably rival those of Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg and Wovenhand’s David Eugene Edwards – both of whom are in their creative prime, like him and his troupe. On No Need to Reason, the frontman’s dominance is perhaps more obvious than ever before as he puts a different stamp on each track according to what it needs.
Apart from, at best, sporadic extreme metal leanings, this Reykjavik-based band’s third album leaves no stylistic stone unturned to expose an underbelly of human psyche that is not entirely unsightly. ‘Lifelust’ alone demonstrates this with its almost pop groove, and the driving ‘Erotica’ is indeed sexy, whereas most other tracks range from broad prog rock landscapes (the half-oppressive, half-relieving ‘Stargaze’) to post punk’s urban despair, but without the coldness that normally goes along with it. And, as if we had to be pointed towards it, the prime example of this is titled ‘Warm Blood’. Clocking in at merely two-and-a-half minutes, this tune shows Kontinuum at both their harshest and earthiest, but possibly also at their most vulnerable.
Elsewhere, there is much wisdom and spiritual insight to be found in Þorgeirsson’s lyrics, which he once again sang and recorded in Sigur Rós’s Sundlaugin Studio. ‘Neuron’ and the title track are the most introspective ones, and they are abstract enough for you to find personal reference points within. You are also exposed to some brooding doom in the shape of ‘Low Road’, the dusty aura of which evokes countrymen Sólstafir’s fleeting desert-rock-isms, while ‘Two Moons’, a straightforward and simply beautiful ballad, seems to deal with relationships. Yes, No Need to Reason can be as plain as that, too.
There are two particular lines that may illustrate the sextet’s potential role in your life, if you just let them in: ‘stay here, stay near, we will dance with the aurora’ from opener, ‘Shivers’, and ‘from the distance everything seems so small’ in the closing track, ‘Black Feather’. For all their typically Nordic aloofness, Kontinuum are friends to lean on in times to come, good and bad alike. These two handfuls of songs could serve as presents made to educate by, first, alienating us from, and then reconciling us with, ourselves by means of heart-warming melody, measured aggression and a majestic pace.
So there you have it! From perspectives ranging from grounded to cosmic, and sounds varying from ethereal to seismic, from serene to cathartic and visceral to philosophical – it’s all in there in unassuming glory. This is a masterfully elegant crossover written by human existence itself.
Kontinuum – No Need to Reason
3. Warm Blood
5. No Need to Reason
6. Low Road
9. Two Moons
10. Black Feather