Track of the Day: Sturle Dagsland “Kusanagi” (2020)

Norwegian experimentalist and avant-rock singer Sturle Dagsland released a new single at the end of last week. “Kusanagi”, which was created together with his brother Sjur, is extraordinary, oddly compelling, and in all likelihood pretty polarising. It’s also quite hard to adequately describe. 

Sturle and his brother are from Stavanger, in South West Norway. It’s a city best known for fish, oil, and viking battlegrounds. The brothers started working together creatively eight years ago, and have been making headway internationally, performing at festivals such as Iceland Airwaves and SXSW, and opening for Big Thief. The last couple of years have seen the brothers putting together the self-titled album, out in February, from which “Kusanagi” is drawn. 

“Kusanagi”, which is named for the Japanese sword, is something of a conundrum. It’s an expressive and ever-changing soundscape; moving from ethereal and beautiful one moment, to wild and abrasive. It’s unlike anything I’ve heard, so far from what I’d usually listen to, and yet I can’t help but keep playing it again. 

There is an intensity and playfulness to it that I really enjoy. Across the whole album, a truly ridiculous range of different and unique instruments are utilised; from Zimbabwean finger harps to custom-made Norwegian billy goat horns. And then you’ve got that vocal, that extraordinary blend of vocal techniques, throat singing and primal screams, all delivered with urgency and zeal. If there’s lyrics – in Norwegian, or not – they’re delivered at such a speed to be more or less discernible. But, that doesn’t matter, the mood and feel is conveyed perfectly. 

Give “Kusanagi” a listen below:

“Kusanagi” is available now. Sturle Dagsland’s self titled debut is set for release February 5th 2020. Keep up to date with Dagsland via Facebook and Instagram.

Header photo by Sturle Dagsland.

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.