Having grown up in a small coastal city in Sweden, Sofia Nystrand, aka Vargkvint, drew on a strong personal bond with the ocean when she created her album Hav (2019, piano and coffee records). Masterfully combining elements of neoclassical and folk music with haunting vocals and a vivid sense of storytelling, she wove a spellbinding tale of the sea that embraced all of “its beauty and its menace, its life-giving and its life-taking”. The richness of what she created echoes on in a new album that finds a group of Sofia’s favorite creators and collaborators re-imagining her songs with new interpretations that preserve their mysterious essence while taking them in boldly creative new directions.
Hav Reimagined follows the same seven song arc as the original album, yet it feels like a completely new journey. The transformation is not unlike what happens when a stage play is adapted for the wide screen. The intimacy and immediacy of the original work is blown out to sweeping cinematic proportions.
Lucy Claire begins with her version of “Stormen Kommer” in which she adds a spoken-word soliloquy recited over the howling winds that roar and lash in the background (“Know that something is about to change. Something has to change. A sudden stillness…“). The piece sets the scene for Chad Skinner, aka Sun Rain to elevate the lilting melody of “Drivved” with lush electronics and swelling percussion. The drama continues to build as the enigmatic Bonander turns “Fyr” into a soaring duet and violinist Hoshiko Yamane unfurls a beautiful, elegiac interpretation of “Dösjö”, which, according to Sofia, is an old Swedish word that means remnants of old storms that haven’t found peace.
The latter half of the album slowly pivots more toward the atmospheric with a painterly brass inflected interpretation of “Till Havs” by Kinbrae (Andy & Mike Truscott) and a sprawling ten minute version of “Stormen Kommer II” by Klangriket (Fabian Rosenberg) & Sjors Mans that builds into a climactic beat-driven outro of swirling synths. Bringing us back to safe harbors and the comforts of home, Tim Linghaus offers a tender acoustic reworking of the lullaby like “Håll mig” (‘hold me’).
In each case, the artists and musicians involved have added measurably to the story of Hav and its songs. The overall narrative is the same, but it resonates powerfully in a different kind of way. Nothing has been lost, only new perspectives added.
Hav Reimagined is now available for download and streaming via piano and coffee records. In keeping with the theme, all proceeds from sales of the album will go to The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization that develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. When ordering directly from Bandcamp, the album comes with a bonus track, Vargkvint’s own alternate version of “Drivved”.