October goes out in a glorious cascade of Norwegian flare with ‘Diafon’ by Vian.
‘Diafon’ by Vian is absolutely, positively guddommelig.
If you, like me, don’t have the pleasure of the ability to understand Norwegian, that’s okay. ‘Diafon’ offers depth beyond understanding the lyrics, part of the charm lies in letting go and allowing Vian to sweep you into their euphoric sound. I almost don’t want to google translate the entire lyric set. ‘Diafon’ is prolific with an expansive compositional structure that forks and turns with deliberate precision, creating pockets of wonder between instantly gripping hooks as transitions tease your expectations. ‘Diafon’ holds so much power in its delivery, yet manages to employ that power in concentrated, intentional doses for maximum impact. Production values are crisp and professional, making ‘Diafon’ a stellar release destined for album of the year status.
Soft swirls of piano, tight drum work, dreamy acoustic guitar, ringing electric guitar, hypnotizing vocals, and fleeting electronica find common ground on Vian’s alternative indie journey of expressive, progressive sound that gels so well together you’d think the band had been together for decades. Tracks range from ethereal alt-folk-electronica to prog-rock power ballads as Vian traverses ‘Diafon’ with confidence and a defiantly strong sense of self.
Tempered and cautious at times, forceful and rousing at others, Vian explores a beautiful blend of emotion and electronica throughout ‘Diafon’. Departure from expected verse chorus verse fare is welcome as transitions thwart prediction at every delicious twist and turn. Special mention must be made for the absolutely incredible breakout vocals of Elisabet Mjanger, who commands presence with a vocal prowess that knows exactly when to blend, when to shirk, when to soften, and when to explode, drawing you in and guiding you faithfully throughout ‘Diafon’ like a trusted friend.
‘Diafon’ is hands down a must-listen, with every single track fighting for a spot among the highlights. Thankfully Vian has only featured three of them on their Bandcamp page for streaming, and those standout tracks are featured below:
‘Gå Der Vinden Blåser’ by Vian
Soft piano leads ‘Ga Der Vinden Blåser’ as Mjanger’s vocals flit and float over tempered drums, leading to a commanding chorus that zaps straight into your core. Swells of expanse widen the depth of this track again and again as the force continues to push harder alongside the complimentary piano and hidden electronic nuggets tempt your attention. Breaks and strategic silence brings massive enticement while the track builds toward its high powered mid point, forming the foundation for a pointed finale of crisp piano, slammin’ drums and echoing vocals.
‘Heilt te du Dør’ by Vian
Synth waves and quiet bass drones serve as the foundation for this emotional cry of conviction in ‘Heilt te du Dør’. A soft, echoing ballad, Mjanger evokes a sense of shifting from despair; finding your voice and asking for help to raise above. Triumphant harmonies as the synth ascends makes for a visceral, gripping piece through temperance and grace. Patience is the virtue here, promising listeners a relaxing ride before steering into a wave of surprising power that carries ‘Heilt te du Dør’ toward euphoric horizons as Mjanger’s masterful control guides the track into the stratosphere for a soft-spoken, tranquil end.
‘Hvit Støy’ by Vian
Vocal harmony entices and dances with itself and a dominant electric guitar in ‘Hvit Støy’ over a faithful drum kit that enjoys its own day in the sun with joyous runs with an improvisational quality that underscores a real sense of freedom throughout the track. It feels like a convergence of ideals as the guitar and vocals challenge and compliment each other in waves; the sense of play vs control encourages a sense of resilience and freedom through camaraderie away from transgressors. ‘Hvit Støy’ grows from a subtle ballad into a full force anthem as the drums and guitar join Mjanger’s eruption of vocal power for a punch-in-the-sternum finish.
Vegard Kummen aka KUBBI was kind enough to share a moment for some insight into the process behind ‘Diafon’, and that interview continues below:
PixelRecall: Would you please share the origin story of Vian’s formation with the Chiptunes = WIN readers?
Vegard Kummen: Early 2015, when I joined the band, there had already been a lot of musicians in and out of it. Back then it was actually the solo project of Elisabet Mjanger, our precious vocalist and songwriter. Lucky as I was I had been asked to play bass on a couple of gigs for her. After I passed her a copy of my album ‘Ember’ just for fun actually. I used to do that a lot back then, seems something really good came out of it in the end. After I joined we started working on a sound of our own. The drummer was already one of my best friends and the guitarist just completely blew me away as incredibly disciplined and musical, I think we all saw a lot of potential in us as a band. It was a long process going from ‘Elisabet Mjanger’ to ‘Vian’, but it was pushed by Elisabet herself. After 2 years of hard work here we are.
PR: How did the sound, theme and direction for the album come together? What were your inspirations?
VK: Can’t say it was a very traditional process piecing these tunes together. Some of the songs were written years before I joined and some where fresh ideas, they were all coming from all these different places and mindsets. For someone who usually writes albums in a conceptual manner it was quite the challenge. However Elisabet has a characteristic way of writing and expressing. A way of communicating her thoughts that leaves room for interpretation in a very sophisticated and authentic way. We wanted to compliment this with the rest of the package. Our inspirations were plenty, I can’t really say there was anything that stood out. Every song came together with a vision of its own. We all listen to widely different types of music, our roots deep in pop, progressive and all sorts of electronic music. However there are a lot of Norwegian bands that has a bit of a similar… “vibe” to ours. For example Jaga Jazzist, Highasakite and Susanne Sundfør. Maybe there’s something about the Norwegian way of life that inspired us all. Maybe a bit far fetched but it’s my best guess.
PR: How would you describe your own personal musical journey over the past few years?
VK: Everything is a bit blurry to me looking back at the last few years. So much crazy stuff happened. I don’t even know where to begin or how to compile this. There have been so many ups and downs, it’s almost felt comparable to a prog rock piece. Some intense sections, some really down, calm and patient parts and some parts of pure musical chaos that just makes no sense but with enough repetition turns into the coolest shit I know. All the people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, mostly in the chip scene, that’s my favorite part of the journey. Alongside all the traveling. I think that’s what influenced me the most as a creative. Music always feels the same to me though. It’s all I live and breathe for. The purest comfort I can find, the format of communication of what can’t be shared with words.
PR: What did you find most fulfilling about creating this album in particular?
VK: Probably learning how to work with other creatives. I’ve had troubles with this for a long time, and I still have a lot to learn. Communicating musical ideas was a difficult task and understanding those of other musicians is always a challenge, it’s very complex and comes with experience. We all speak our minds and push through disagreements to make the best record possible. I’ve never been in a band able to do it to this degree before.
PR: Were there any creative hurdles that needed to be overcome, or creative epiphanies you and the band discovered while creating the album?
VK: Hahaha I’d say the hurdles were plentiful. We’re a strange bunch sometimes. With widely different musical backgrounds, personalities and preferences trying to find a meeting point in every creative decision is tough. But I also think that’s what makes our music different. It’s difficult when we’re a bit on the perfectionist side no matter what we do and finding a compromise is a hurdle every time, but that’s where the greatest epiphanies happen.
PR: Anything at all you’d like the chance to say or share with the Chiptunes = WIN readers?
VK: There’s a lot I want to say to you all, maybe I can say it to you all in person sometime. I truly hope so! I owe you all so very much and having left you waiting for so long feels terrible, but nothing is ready until it’s ready. Much love!!
With a combination of electronica, acoustic instrumentals, beautifully haunting vocals, and uncompromising polish, ‘Diafon’ is truly an experience you absolutely must indulge, plain and simple. ‘Diafon’ is available for purchase now on Bandcamp for 80 NOK or more (approx. $10US) and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
**A personal thank you to all of the Chiptunes = WIN readers who read, enjoyed, shared, critiqued or even skipped my Sladerfluous Reviews articles over these past four years. Much love. Just remember that when you support the artists you love you are the literal driving force that enables more incredible art from them in the future. Show ’em that love. :) **
PixelRecall – (R. Morgan Slade) – Support the artists you love