Barrens played in my city last night, and let me tell you: not only was the show a blessing after nearly two years devoid of festivals and gigs, but these three gentlemen really took the audience to another plane of existence with their dreamy, beautiful and (at times) still heavy post-rock performance. The energy was astonishing. In between songs, the guitarist told that the band was 'beyond grateful' to perform live again. Dear Sir, if you read this - I am too. It's been an extraordinary show.
Favorite track: Shifter.
"PENUMBRA", the debut album from Barrens.
Out April 10 via Pelagic Records!
BARRENS is a new trio from Gothenburg, Sweden, featuring 2 members of SCRAPS OF TAPE, a band that has been releasing albums on Denovali Records and touring for over 20 years, and whose last album “The Will To Burn” is an incredibly underrated masterpiece.
There is obviously lots of common ground between what the two bands do musically, yet BARRENS develop their own idiosyncratic sound on their stunning debut album Penumbra: driven by synths equally as by guitars, Penumbra is oscillating between the dark and the brighter side of post rock, but leaning more towards the dark. The album is conceptually circling around topics like change, metamorphosis and transformation, „especially movement into, through and out of shadows and back again“, guitarist Johan G Winther explains. „Being both lost in darkness, yet finding comfort there. Seeking it. Afloat in blinding light, suspended in darkness”, as it is etched into the vinyl.
BARRENS were already touring together before they were even a band. In 2018, Markku Hildén joined Scraps of Tape, Johan and Kenta's other band, as a live drummer for two tours of Europe and a tour of China. „Finding an immediate chemistry between us both playing and hanging out, we quickly realised we had very similar ideas regarding music and creating art together. So the outlines for what BARRENS would become were sketched out back then in vans, trains, planes and over post-show beers at local bars“, comments bass player Kenta Jansson.
Once back home, the newly formed band started writing demos, drawing inspiration from new sources and venturing through both well known and unknown territories. In the summer of 2019, Penumbra was recorded in Uppsala and Gothenburg and produced by the band, and mixed and mastered by CULT OF LUNA's Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios in Stockholm.
Penumbra is dense, sophisticated, deep, mature, overwhelming, minimalist and elaborate all at the same time. It does not sound like a debut album of a new band, but more like an intuitive but also carefully reflected creation of musicians fused together by a long and strong bond. „We all have in common that creating music is a cathartic release. We do it not only because we WANT to, but just as much because we HAVE to“, explains Winther. „This makes writing and creating something that is born out of equal amounts happiness, light and positivity and anxiety, darkness and negativity. It’s a constant movement through various degrees of light, of shadows and deep darkness. The shared bond of this has been the catalyst for what BARRENS and PENUMBRA is, and what it will continue to grow into and develop out of”.
Sure being a fulltime artist is great and all, but I also work about 60 hrs/week and a lot of it is not fun. When it's the middle of the night, and I'm exhausted, and alone in my studio with a looming deadline and a painting that's already taken so much of my time that it feels like a bad marriage, I have two listening options: 1. The Rich Roll interview with David Goggins, or 2. This album. Pure motivation! Madeline v. F.