Fronted by singer, songwriter and composer Ola Fløttum, The White Birch are another shining example of the exceptional vitality of the Norwegian music scene, all genres included. Born as a quartet in 1996, The White Birch have crafted over the years an expansive soundscape of slow motion, intimate and melancholic songs, releasing three albums between 1998 and 2005. For many, the band’s creative output culminated in the spacious and free form post-rock sound of Star is Just a Sun (2002).
The White Birch disbanded in 2006 but Ola Fløttum never stopped writing songs and composing for film. Reviving the name after a nine year hiatus but this time as a solo act, the release of Eskil Vogt’s Norwegian drama Blind (2014) saw the inclusion of a new song (Lantern) in the end credits and hinted at the impending release of new material.
It has taken 9 years, many songs have been thrown out the window before I eventually found my 12 chosen ones. During these years I’ve lost my mother, started a family, raised two kids, and bought a house in Oslo were I’ve recorded most of the album in the basement. Ola Fløttum
Perhaps “weighted” with an added emotional layer of time and expectation and following a very slow crescendo introduction, the voice of Ola Fløttum can be heard again in the midst of sumptuous string arrangements on “New York”, the first song on The Weight of Spring released on Glitterhouse Records in February 2015 last.
The Weight of Spring is essentially a contemplative orchestral folk album showcasing the multi-instrumental skills of Ola Fløttum on piano, guitar, banjo, bass, violin and string arrangements. Understated percussions (Pål Hausken), viola (Ole Henrik Moe) and clarinet (Morten Barrikmo Engebretsen) can also be heard as well as three female voices (Ingrid Olava, Susanna Wallumrød and Ellen Dorrit Petersen) singing harmonies or duetting with the singer on “The Weight of Spring”, “The Hours” and “Lantern”.
Two tracks are associated with cinema – “Lantern” with Blind (2013) mentioned above and “Lamentation” with Norwegian film Oslo, August 31st (2011), the latter an acoustic rework of the original version. Throughout the album, the majestic downtempo ballads dealing with acceptance and rebirth (and a final instrumental) consistently radiate an aura of serenity and impart a quasi-ambient quality to the overall sound. A welcome and ingenious comeback.