Cozy up with Nordic cool

Henrik Lindstrand’s new album, Nordhem, takes the composer back to his roots

Nordhem - Henrik

Photo courtesy of Henrik Lindstrand
Henrik Lindstrand has described the music in his Nordhem album as “something heartfelt and honest.”

Everett, Wash.


Image: Nordhem album cover

Almost everyone loves the excitement and merriment of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, with the old familiar carols (and a side of Stan Boreson’s hilarious “I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” for us Scandihoovians, of course).

But there also comes a time for a little “Nordic cool,” a chance to calm down a bit and reflect on these tumultuous times. A new recording by pianist/composer Henrik Lindstrand might be a good place to start, in setting a more contemplative mood amidst all the Christmas/New Year bustle.

Nordhem, the third release in a trilogy of Lindstrand recordings that began with his Leken (2017) and Nattresan (2019), is the latest work from the Swedish-born, Danish-trained composer/pianist. His scores for the new Nordhem often invest serene, contemplative melodies with unexpected rhythmic and harmonic complexity. (The track “Blå Berget,” for instance, has an unusual meter of seven beats to the measure, rather than the usual multiples of two or three.) The tranquil “Valborg” is enhanced by subtle overlays of sound that repay close listening. And the final track, “Rest,” features shimmering electronic enhancements over a simple melody that fades and finally disappears.

As a youngster, Lindstrand got off to an unusually early start in music: he began piano studies at age 3. Much later, after graduating from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, he developed a career composing for film and television. Lindstrand has written scores for animation, commercials, documentaries, short films, and feature films (where he has worked with such directors as Ole Christian Madsen, Jesper W. Nielsen and Anders Morgenthaler).

It is Lindstrand’s ability to establish moods in his music that has helped to build his success as a TV and film composer. One career milestone came in 2007, with his acclaimed score for the Danish feature film “Ekko” (“Echo”). Lindstrand has since composed for animation, commercials, documentaries, games, short films and a lengthy list of feature films. He continues his concert career, performing during the past year in Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden. And he’s keeping busy composing game soundtracks (for Lego “Builder’s Journey”) and film scores (to the film “Undtagelsen” (“The Exception”).

Lindstrand has described the music on his new Nordhem release as “going back to my roots, peeling off all layers and seeking something heartfelt and honest.”

After many years as a multi-instrumentalist in a band and as a composer for TV and film, the urge to create a musical universe on my own became strong. It’s a musical universe that is imaginative and thought-provoking—just the right atmosphere for the contemplation of the old year, and the arrival of the new one.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 25, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Melinda Bargreen

Melinda Bargreen is a Seattle-based writer and composer whose career at The Seattle Times began in 1977. Her choral works include the “Norwegian Folksong Suite.” Melinda contributes to many publications and is the author of Seattle Opera’s forthcoming 50-year history book. She holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a doctorate in English from the University of California, Irvine.