It is no secret that I like boots, but with the recent cold snap I have given up any idea of wearing boots with tights, and am still clinging desperately to flannel and denim. The local uniform though is low boots, skinny jeans, and jackets with giant fake fur hoods.
But as the season progresses from Black Friday to after-Christmas sales to deeply discounted down jackets, the local shopping centers have put away their boot displays in favor of sneakers. So I can no longer wander around fondling the Doc Martens boots on display. Plus I have discovered a new wonder, Fiorentini & Baker biker boots. They are in the $600 range, so obviously I need a new hobby.
In desperation, and quite frankly not wanting to go outside, I have turned to window-shopping on ebay. And that is how I discovered the Nyckelharpa and Myrkur, a Danish woman who composes and plays music for it.
Here is a 19th century “antique Swedish nyckelharpa”. It was represented as a potential museum piece and went unsold at $6,499.00.
This is just mesmerizing.
You can buy them new – here is one for SEK 200,000 (about $2000 USD) – but you usually have to order them custom made, and they are a lot, lot cheaper if you are already in Sweden.
And this is Myrkur.
The rest (below) is detail, links, for the obsessed.
Myrkur (Amalie Bruun, Amalie Oksemorder ) ( 1985 – ) is a Danish songwriter, vocalist, and musician. She composes music for violin, guitar, piano, and nyckelharpa. Her music has been described as having elements of Scandinavian folk, goth, and black-metal. (1)(3) Her album Mareridt received Best Album Award at the 2018 Metal Hammer’s Golden Gods Awards. (4) (5)
While some have characterized her style as black metal, Bruun has stated that she does not try to compose in any particular genre. In another interview with Bandcamp, she said her influences were Norwegian black metal bands Darkthrone and Ulver, and Norwegian Romantic-era composer Edvard Grieg. (10) Bruun’s black-metal influences include Kristoffer Rygg, of Norwegian black-metal band Ulver, who produced her first album and Norwegian black-metal guitarist Teloch, of Mayhem, who performs with her live. (1) She has also mentioned the lead singer from Light in Babylon (red link) as an influence.
Amalie Bruun was born in Copenhagen in 1985. “Mykur” means darkness in Icelandic.
Bruun grew up in a musical family, went to music school, and studied ballet and classical music from an early age. She learned to play various instruments, as 18th-century composers did, as a priority for song-writing. (11)
She was a fashion model, her most notable appearance was in Martin Scorsese’s 2010 Bleu de Chanel men’s fragrance ad. (7) (8) (9) (It was famous — watch.)
Myrkur’s first album was “Mykur” in September of 2014, from Relapse Records followed by a demo single “Skađi”. (10)
Myrkur’s first live performance was Denmark’s Roskilde Festival.(10)
“Mausoleum” was a live recording from the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway. It had seven songs from M, a cover of Bathory, an extreme metal band from Sweden, and a new track. It was accompanied by the Norwegian Girls Choir and guitarist Håvard “Lemarchand” Jørgensen, formerly of Ulver.
M, her first album, was produced by Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg. “Onde Børn.” was released ahead of it as a single. A video clip of Bruun playing the nykelhaarpa was released in May, in anticipation of the album Mareidt.(10)
Mareridt (Danish: “nightmares”) is Bruun’s second full length album. Bruun says it was based on a series of nightmares she wrote down as soon as she woke up. The album features a nyckelharpa, violin, tribal drums, and choral harmonies. The musical influences range from an ancient “kulning” (Scandinavian herding call) to black-metal styled growling vocals. It was produced by Randall Dunn (Earth, Boris, Wolves in the Throne Room).(1)
In “Ulvinde,” from the album Mareidt, Bruun sings “yes, destroy evil with evil”. In the music video, she stumbles across rocky moss-covered terrain, occasionally spitting up blood, sometimes accompanied by three norns, Scandinavian goddesses of fate. Her vocals range from screams and shrieks to the sustained notes reminiscent of religious choral music. (6)
- I medgang og modgang (original title), Anja & Viktor – In Sickness and in Health (2008) Stylist, 2008
- The Lonely Island Feat. Michael Bolton: Jack Sparrow (Video short)
Jenny Curran, Forrest Gump’s wife (uncredited)
- Lords of Chaos sound track – performer: “De tre piker” – as Myrkur, writer: “De tre piker” – as Amalie Oksemorder, 2008
- Anja & Viktor – In Sickness and in Health soundtrack performer: “Sommerfugle i maven”, writer: “Sommerfugle i maven”
Myrkur Essentials (playlist 17 songs)
- Den Lille Piges Død (The Little Girl’s Death), 2015
- “Onde Børn.” from M, 2015
- Mausoleum, 2016
- Två Konungabarn, 2017
- Shadows Of Silence, 2017
- Juniper, December 2018 (2) (3)
- Mykur, (EP extended play) September 2015
- M, August 2015, includes Byssan lull, “galley lull”, a seaman’s lullaby published in a 1919 collection by Evert Taube
- Mareridt, (Danish: “Nightmares”) September
- Ulvinde 2017
- Funeral (Myrkur & Chelsea Wolfe), 2017
- Juniper, 2018
- Roskilde Festival (Denmark) 2015
- Hellfest (France)
- Behemoth (U.S.)
Official website: myrkurmusic.com
Oddly enough, none of this (Myrkur, Mareridt) has been translated into any Scandinavian languages, (but now I have discovered by accident the article Amalie Brauun in several languages, along with articles for several of her albums)
Other mentions from the above sources:
Light in Babylon (red link)
Hummingbird-speed guitars. “Bruun composes in minor keys with hummingbird-speed guitars, as many Scandinavian metal acts have before her…” this phrase has been much scraped across the internet, but the closest I can come to defining it is: Hummingbird guitar by both Gibson (Gibson Hummingbird) and Epiphone Hummingbird), and Speed Metal, an early type of metal music that used acoustic guitars (including Ulver).
Kristoffer Rygg, Norwegian black-metal musician and producer, best known for his work with Ulver (lol, “this article has multiple issues” what, only one template, it surely deserves more, just for the lede)
Ulver (Norwegian: “wolves”), Norwegian experimental band that started out with black-metal
Daria Endresen (red link), Norwegian photographer and model.