Himmelhamn needed to search back into time to find their way – and old hymn books inspired Vigleik Winje, who hardly knows a single hymn, to write music to old texts.

Behind the dust and arcane fonts he found radical texts about man and God. Here there were few shortcuts, and the texts deal with the contrary states of anxiety and peace, hope and despair, salvation and damnation in an open and sincere way. This is not about nostalgia, rather these are lyrics about real life and the turmoil and struggles of day-to-day life.

“While everything is changing around us it is striking how much alike we are when we compare ourselves to those who preceded us. Their restiveness, longing and search for meaning are similar to our own feelings,” says Vigleik Winje.

“Today, we experience way too much flash and image. Surface has replaced substance. That’s why it’s so liberating to encounter that fundamental tone of Pietism that exposes our inadequacy and God’s perfection. No beating about the bush, just the painfully honest confession. Sin and grace,” adds Vigleik Winje.

“We’re also undeniably connected to our predecessors. When we have not tried to modernise the language in the old hymns, it’s because we want to tie ourselves together to remind us about the greater context we find ourselves in,” concludes Vigleik Winje.

Himmelhamn has a strong focus on melody that is presented with an organic and appealing expressiveness. The music ranges from simple singer-songwriter melodies to more spherical arrangements. Winje feels that the melodies have presented themselves to him more than he has written them. They just had to be dug out of the texts.

The idea of making new music for old texts came about after learning about the Re:tuned movement in the US. In short, it represents a third way between the traditional hymns and the slick modern Christian pop music; composing new, often organic, music for old texts. Examples are Bifrost arts and The Welcome Wagon (produced by Sufjan Stevens).

To capture the nerve and musicality, the whole album was recorded live in the ABC studio in Etne. Kjetil Ulland, who has worked with Vamp and Tom Roger Aadland, has recorded and also mixed Himmelhamn. Björn Englemann, the Scandinavian grand old man at the Cuttingroom studios has done the mastering.

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