Oystein Ramfjord, from Norway, is the composer/performer behind Amethystium -- a new-age band often compared to Delerium, Enigma, Deep Forest, Mythos and others. These bands are all known for the otherworldly, ethereal quality of their music. Mostly through instrumentation and vocals used as another instrument, these bands create an electronic dreamscape that fans can drift across in almost spiritual bliss.
With the ability to transport listeners elsewhere, I might be remiss for not warning people to refrain from listening to Amethystium's third CD, Evermind, in the car. The music has the ability to draw you in such a way that you pay little attention to what else is going on around you. Actually, this has been the case for me for all three Amethystium CDs.
The highlights of most Amethystium CDs are those tracks that include guest vocals. The lead track of Evermind, "Arcus," is just such a track. Lee Nisbet (from the band Animus Mundi) starts out the track with ghostly singing that fades in and out throughout the piece. I am never sure if there are real lyrics or not, but I believe the point is the sound she contributes to the whole performance. You can hear Lee not just on this track, but also on "Shadowlands" and "Fable." Martha Krossbakken provides vocals on "Imaginatio."
"Lost" is an intriguing track. For me, while the melody initially starts off invoking the image of searching, I feel that by the end, perhaps the title should be "Found." The organ (or similar sounding instrument) dominates the soundscape on this track. But like all Amethystium tunes, the layering tends to be rather complex. Listen to a track multiple times and you are apt to hear something new and different each time.
I really enjoy "Fable." Lee's vocals sound like they are coming from a fairy or pixie -- light and delicate with an airy hint about them. About midway through the song, an electronic flute sound joins in. When Lee harmonizes with herself (aren't electronics great?), the sound is even more magical.
Evermind is an excellent CD for this genre of music. I think most listeners familiar with Amethystium will enjoy it. There is nothing truly new on this CD that you can't hear from earlier releases (Odonata and Aphelion). But, what worked on Oystein's earlier efforts still works here. In short, if music were a drug, Amethystium has the ability to take users on some mystical journeys, regardless of which CD you use to reach your high.
One final note: The promotional material states that Evermind is the third in the "dragonfly trilogy." I never realized that there was a trilogy, but I had noticed the dragonfly theme on all Amethystium CDs I own. I simply thought Oystein had a favorite insect. Knowing this connection between the CDs, I will have to listen to them in release order to find out if I gain anything more than when I listen to them individually. I am also eager to find out where Oystein will take listeners on his next release. Will it be radically different or more of the same?
by Wil Owen