Lindy-Fay Hella – Seafarer (Ván Records)

Organic. Other-worldly. Occasionally overwhelming. Risen from the foundations of Hella’s haunting vocal tones, Seafarer’s tidal wave of intricate melodies and ambitious time signatures will resonate with fans of traditional folk as much as those familiar with Lindy-Fay’s best work with Wardruna

There’s a clear crossover between the vocalist/flautist’s day job and her surreal solo project but this remarkable record has an affecting identity all of its own.

Initially conceived as a celebration of the voice, Seafarer morphed into a meandering jam where Hella would invited fellow musicians to imprint their identities on individual songs. Even within the finished product there’s a sense that each composition builds to a critical crescendo – Seafarer is spontaneous, unforced and, as a result, reassuringly spectacular.

Hella is unafraid to challenge convention and carve an avant garde niche: Nåke du finn i skogen and Horizon are based on the same melody but each song takes a different creative course. The former features Kristian Eivind Espedal (Gaahl) on vocals and the latter introduces Roy Ole Førlund (organ) and Jan Tore Ness (drums) – the talented duo adding an ethereal dimension to an embryonic and ever-evolving song structure.

Even those enlightened fans of Wardruna’s ambient and dark folk are unlikely to have heard anything quite like Seafarer. It’s neither rock nor metal, folk nor doom and yet elements of all four genres and more infiltrate a genuine masterwork.