Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Thomas Dybdahl would like you to clear it all out. He would like to strip everything back and see what kind of fire those cords of wood could make if they were roasting in a fireplace without anyone looking at them as they worked. He'd like there to be few options for resting or sitting in the room we're going to spend the night in with him. From the start of one of this Norwegian's albums to the end of it, he has the ability to make you believe that those creaks and those moans in the floor beams are coming from somewhere in your body. Those are the groans of your knees and joints and the roars and bangs coming in from the other side of the windows are just pangs of hunger or pangs of loneliness, all emanating from the darkest parts of you, those parts that are packed in with the veins, the bones and the muscles that we've never, ever seen and never will.
Dybdahl would appreciate it if you rid this room, or this house, of any mementos, of anything that reminds you of anything or anybody else. He works best when you're able to give him your full attention. He wants you to just let everything else evaporate, to where, he could care less. If you really need to get any of that stuff back when he's done, when he's left, you can go ahead and hunt them down, but it might be more trouble than it's worth to recover it. You can get lost in his songs. You can get hypnotized by them. They can make you do things you'd never thought you'd do. They can make you fall in love, most definitely. They should come with a label on them stating, "Ladies beware.
Avoid eye contact with Thomas Dybdahl at all costs." He makes he and you - whomever that is - feel as if you should both be completely oblivious to anything happening around you. You listen to his words and they are everything that matters right now. He makes it feel as if you and he are all alone, in a cottage - somewhere off in the distance, tucked up in the woods, but visible from afar. There's a thick smoke piping out of the stone fireplace, ascending skyward, in no hurry. We're there in that cottage and it feels ideal, there with the creaks and the wooden moans, just those words, that guitar and piano. It's us and it's only us, just the way we'll go out later on, with only our cold, white breaths and the heat of what was just heard.
*Essay originally published November, 2011
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