Kati Rán – SÁLA

Label: Svart Records Release: May 24, 2024

An angelic voice and mystic Pagan sounds: Five years after the 15-minute single “Blodbylgje”, Nordic dark folk artist Kati Rán has expanded on its oceanic theme for her long-awaited full-length album, SÁLA. Embarking on a far-reaching musical and personal travelogue, it’s a reawakening of both the feminine narratives submerged and fragmented within Norse mythology, and the enduring, healing powers held within.

Named after the Old Norse word for ‘soul’ and ‘sea’, SÁLA is an act of ‘soul retrieval’, the shamanic art of trauma recovery, be it illness, death, heartbreak or loss, and the reintegration of a splintered self. Across its 13, wide-ranging, elegantly unfolding tracks, the album is an embodiment of different feminine voices and perspectives – from the Norse nine daughters of the sea, or ‘billow maidens’, through various historical and fictional figures to the late-night voices we hear in our most liminal states – all with tales to tell, riddles to solve, challenges to be accepted and guidance to offer. It’s a multiplicity that, like the ocean itself, belongs to a vast, restless dynamic, a communion with the element of water, recreated across the album both in field recordings and the agelessly organic nature of the music itself.

Recorded in a barn in Húsafell, Iceland – home to glacier ice caves and a rare lava stone marimba rediscovered for the track ‘Stone Pillars’ – as well as Finland, Norway and at home in Kati’s native Netherlands, SÁLA is as much chronicle of Kati’s own perspective-shifting recording process as it as a pilgrimage through different viewpoints and internal states. That itinerant urge is also reflected in the use of different languages, ranging across Norwegian, Old Norse, Icelandic, and, for the first time, English, her combination of ancient texts, historical reimagining’s and unguarded personal reflection backed up by deep research into the most resonant recesses of Nordic lore.

The album is a collaborative venture too. As well as working closely together with Finnish producer Jaani Peuhu, there are contributions from across the musical spectrum, including extreme metal vocalist extraordinaire Gaahl, the Icelandic female choir Umbra Ensemble, renowned Norwegian jazz musician Karl Seglem, Björk and Brian Eno contrabassist Borgar Magnason, members of pagan folk acts Völuspá, Gealdýr, Heilung and Theodor Bastard and even Napalm Death’s Mitch Harris on vocals. The title track’s rhythmic pulse emerging from a traditional Norwegian bukkehorn was recorded by Karl Seglem.

Conclusion: Very beautiful, dreamy and soothing, mystical-archaic – if you need it, SÁLA can certainly put you in a meditative mood immediately and take you on a trip to spiritual worlds. For my personal taste, it is maybe a bit too soothing and meditative over the entire length of the album. I would have liked to hear in between a bit more upbeat songs like “Hefring”, “Blodbylgje” and “Segið Méri” or something as intense as the brilliant “Himinglæva” duet.

1. Sála
2. Hefring
3. Kólga | 16
4. Blodbylgje
5. Dröfn | Drifting
6. Stone Pillars
7. Dúfa | Sleeping
8. Unnr | Mindbeach
9. Himinglæva
10. Hrönn
11. Bára | Bósi
12. Segið Mér
13. Sátta

Producer: Kati Rán, Jaani Peuhu, Christopher Juul


  • 8.5/10
    Bewertung / rating - 8.5/10

Klaudia Weber

reckless and merciless dictator, so KNEEL! In other words, editor-in-chief, translator, website and ad admin, "Jane of all trades" - - - addicted to books (everything between Lord Of The Rings & quantum physics) and music, mainly Metal made in Finland. Furthermore, there's painting, drawing, movies, theater... so you can expect some variety on this website too. MA Master of Arts, English and American studies & Media communication = completed two full studies parallel within 5 years; very proud of my achievement - a bit later in life thanks to a scholarship - as a working class girl in a highlyconservative-romancatholic nation...