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Ronjas Christmas Witch Ronja's Christmas Witch - Ronja's Christmas Witch
MP3 EP 2014 | Silber 169
12 tracks, 31 minutes
$2 download
Mkl Anderson of Drekka leads us through a world of Christmas dreams.

: Press Release
: Digital Booklet
: Prefer to listen on Bandcamp?

Track Listing:
First Dream of Christmas
Second Dream of Christmas
Third Dream of Christmas
Fourth Dream of Christmas
Fifth Dream of Christmas
Sixth Dream of Christmas
Seventh Dream of Christmas
Eighth Dream of Christmas
Ninth Dream of Christmas
Tenth Dream of Christmas
Eleventh Dream of Christmas
Twelfth Dream of Christmas

Michael Anderson and friends is Drekka, always busy touring or playing concerts, it seems has probably more music under his belt than I will ever discover. So, occasionally I get something new, and here's a thirty-two minute EP recorded in Iceland, a few months back. Already dark enough over there to start thinking about Christmas, as Silber Records asked them for a download only with the idea of that season in mind. The results are also available as a highly limited CDR on the bands own 'Orphanology' label. Twelve pieces, from a handful of seconds to almost nine minutes, there is a bit of field recordings in here, which have a lot of guitar and electronic sounds, along with whatever field recordings were used in this. This is Drekka at their finest ambient rock/post rock incarnation. Lots of spacious stuff flying about in this dark days, but I wonder where the component Christmas fits into this, other than perhaps some more desolate playing, but hey, that can be done anytime and anywhere. It's a fine release with some highly atmospheric tunes and textures and given the fact that the rain pours down today, just before Christmas; this is probably the right bunch of tunes for the right time indeed.
~ Vital Weekly

Multinational project RONJA’S CHRISTMAS WITCH is, to my understanding  at least, a one-off collaboration between artists Mkl Anderson, Sarah Dunevant, & ١rir Georg, mainly recorded in Iceland in 2014 with subsequent work done by Anderson to finale this production. The finalized was released as a self-titled EP towards the end of 2014 on US label Silber Records.
While Christmas does indeed figure in the title of both the project and their EP, which in length is actually more of an old time album length production as it clocks in at almost 32 minutes, for me the key word in the title of this project is the word witch, as that word gives a more proper association as to what one might expect from this creation in terms of moods and atmospheres.
Besides the brief cinematic opening and end sequences book-ending this album, and two relatively brief instances of moods of a more sacral, solemn and beautiful nature tossed into the mix here, the greater majority of this production revolves around moods and atmospheres that range from the unnerving to the dark and subtly menacing.
To take a specific example: The Tenth Dream of Christmas, the longest cut on this album by far with it’s close to 9 minutes playtime, opens as a dual set of plucked, distant guitars accompanied by a subtle drone. As this creation unfolds, the drone starts getting subtly more dominant, the guitars appears to become subtly more distant, and from the halfway point they loose patterns, start disappearing and reappearing, with brief moments of patterned play in between sections of mainly slowly plucked notes in more of a chaotic order. This addition of the chaotic into a landscape following a fixed pattern until a breaking point, and the subtle but constant break up of patterns and unpredictable developments after this, creates a subtle feeling of uneasiness in many, even if this isn’t even intended by the creators.
On many of the shorter cuts here the moods and atmospheres are more distinctly dark and unnerving however, with eerie noises, occasional distant cries and dark drones combining into an almost nightmarish soundtrack, of the kind that creates a strong feeling of uneasiness and at times even terror, but without ever resorting to any dramatic effect. The creators play with delicate and subtle effects to create these unnerving landscapes, possibly tapping into some core inborn fears we have of the dark and the unknown in our core and primal instincts.
Those who find themselves fascinated by moods of a dark and unnerving manner, who feels right at home in dystopian landscapes and atmospheres with undercurrents of an almost primal, delicate fear present, and appreciate when those occasionally broken up by sequences of a more solemn and sacral dark beauty, those are the people that should seek out this production. In essence those who appreciate and understand the beauty of darkness I guess, and who understands the allure of the unnerving darkness presented and explored in a subtle and unobtrusive manner.
~ Olav Martin Bj°rnsen, House of Prog

The most substantial of the six EPs that make up Silber Record’s lineup of 2014 Christmas-themed releases, Ronja’s Christmas Witch is also the most accessible and perhaps likable of the bunch. Produced by Icelandic musician Mkl Anderson (of the group Drekka) in collaboration with Sarah Dunevant & ١rir Georg who recorded the material on the album during a one-night session in October 2014, Ronja’s Christmas Witch plays in a somewhat similar manner to modern post-rock, including a mixture of minimalistic music compositions and more ambient-based, found sound recordings. Labeled as “Christmas Dreams,” these tracks, perhaps appropriately given the setting the recordings were made in, frequently have an icy and rather desolate sort of sound to them, but many are also quite serene and calming.
The album’s opening track (“First Dream of Christmas” - the tracks are numbered thusly up to the “Twelfth Dream”) appears to be a recording of a traditional seasonal tune being sung (in Icelandic I would presume) at a get-together of some sort. The end of the track features an English-language speaker asking “Where are you going? Salvation’s that way:” a statement that implies the listener is heading in the opposite manner. Ronja’s Christmas Witch is never as dark as might be suggested by that statement however: these dreams may not be all sunshine and rainbows, but they’re never utterly hopeless either.
The majority of the album’s tracks present relatively brief snippets of atmospheric ambient or drone music built around rumbling bass tones, soft rhythm elements, and just hints of what I would consider melody. Some tracks, such as the “Third Dream of Christmas,” have a more optimistic tone to them: this particular one is built around the sound of tinkling bells, with warmer chords that lie just beneath the surface. As such, the piece continually threatens to turn into something downright cheerful but never quite reaches that point. By the mid point of the album, the generally ominous and almost menacing mood established on the fourth and fifth tracks is upset somewhat by the mysterious yet almost comforting sixth piece. With its airy, synthesized vocal melody, there’s an emotional resonance to this track, but the subsequent “Seventh Dream” is about as far as the album treads into the realm of jarring industrial-like drone. One of the album’s longer pieces, track seven starts off with a hollow-sounding, woodwind-like melody. Ever so slowly, grating mechanical whirr and more shrieky higher-pitched tones bubble to the surface, yet these more harsh sounds never quite overpower the original elements of the piece.
Following an eighth track that instills a nostalgic feel in the listener and a ninth piece that recalls SD Laika’s brand of glitch electro, the nine-minute tenth track begins with a solitary acoustic guitar line and continues by unleashing resonating ethereal chords that echo endlessly in the mix. Like many of the tracks here, it’s almost as tempting to focus on the odd and noisy elements that creep into the background of the composition as it is to focus exclusively on the “melody,” and the sense of “space” in the piece is immediately noticeable. The sparse “Eleventh Dream” actually has bits and pieces of the melody from “The Little Drummer Boy” played on a chirping guitar, and the album ends with a field recording that captures the sound of power tools drilling before ending with a few moments of silence.
All in all, though it’s much too minimalistic to be of interest to those used to the flashy production and continual sound of most of today’s popular music, I found Ronja’s Christmas Wish to be the strongest and most consistently interesting of these 2014 Silber Christmas EPs. Even if this album too is very experimentally-inclined, with a lot of unconventional composition techniques on full display, there’s much more going on here than was present on any of the other releases in the series. The fact that Christmas Witch is quite relaxing and generally pleasant to listen to also makes it significantly more palatable than the nearly formless guitar experimentation that was the focus of several series entries. Fans of stuff like Grouper or even the more ambient side of post-rock would probably find this EP worthwhile – it actually very precisely captures the type of mood I’d prefer to have during the holiday season.
~ Andy Armageddon, Bandjack