At a time when researchers find that Svalbard is the most obvious place to look for symptoms of the globe's growing climate vulnerability, Svalbard Kirkes Trio [Svalbard Church Trio] is releasing an album which addresses Arctic concerns.

“The world needs a cold Arctic. We enjoy it when the thermometer drops below zero. It’s not even black. Even during the darkest wintertime there is still light. Man facing the elements is vulnerable but also strong.”

These are the words of the trio led by Leif Magne Helgesen, vicar of Svalbard, who has written the lyrics for the songs. On the album they have created the structure of a mass they have called “Det blå loftet” [The Blue Loft]. The other members of the trio are Espen Klungseth Rotevatn and Turunn Sørensen, both of whom have written the melodies for the project.

The album has been recorded in Gruve 3 [Mine no. 3] on Svalbard, a closed-down coalmine owned by the mining company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani.

The album is produced by Erik Hillestad; Martin Abrahamsen is the sound technician. The mood of the production has taken its cue from the recording location with sounds from the mining operations and metallic machines. In some ways this is a folk music album, but the drama in the bold improvised arrangements, and the elements of Latin and church mass songs lift this work into an atmospheric world that is difficult to categorise.

Most of the musicians accompanying the trio have ties to Svalbard. You will hear Jovna Zakharias Dunfjell on a Hammond B3. He is also the organist in Svalbard church. On guitar and mandolin we hear Trond Breen, on tuba Stein Erik Tafjord, on drums and percussion Finn Sletten, on accordion Hilde Fjerdingøy, on banjo Sveinung Lystrup Thesen and on trumpet Hans-Gunnar Skreslett. You will also hear Store Norske Mandskor [Norwegian male choir] with its conductor Espen K. Rotevatn, who is also a member of the Svalbard Kirkes Trio.

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