Elm with Noéta
Photos: Aron Mattsson
Layout: Alexander Trinkl, Irrwisch
Something dark, melancholic, and at times even sinister haunts each of the eight tracks collected on Noéta’s sophomore full-length, ‘Elm’, which is lyrically based loosely on emotions connected to the eponymous poem by the celebrated American writer Sylvia Plath. The music of the Swedish duo comes with an inherent ethereal beauty, which is carried by Êlea’s both lucent and lucid voice. Subtle and nearly minimalistic instrumentation further underlines the focus on the singer’s captivating vocals by her long-time collaborator Andris, who masterly captures and enhances the musical moods. Taking their name from the ancient Greek philosophical notion of universal thoughts or ideas that exist independently of any agent having them, Noéta embarks on their musical journey into the otherworld with the highly praised 2015 EP ‘Psykhē’, which also refers to classical Greek philosophy where it denotes the wholeness of a person. This was followed by the equally acclaimed debut album ‘Beyond Life and Death’ in 2017, which added more depth and audible confidence to the duo’s compositions. With the recording, production, and mix again firmly controlled by Noéta, mastering of ‘Elm’ was for the first time left to the expert hands of Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio (Mayhem, Watain). Guest contributions by Knokkelklang and P.Stille of Stilla and Bergraven also hint at Êlea’s black metal roots that remain present, although her darkness takes a different stylistic direction. ‘Elm’ witnesses Noéta charting their own left-hand course through the rising tide of unique female artists such as Chelsea Wolfe, Anna Von Hausswolff or Emma Ruth Rundle, to name a few of the highly individual female voices claiming their territory in the world of dark music.
We’ve always looked at it as an accompaniment to introspection, a soundtrack of the soul. As an expression of the darkest parts of our beings that rarely get to come out in any other form. Though always with a glimmer of hope, a lot of our music explores the contrast between light and dark. These abstract notions are, of course, challenging to portray in music in a way that is interpreted as such by all who listen. Noétas music is our attempt at those landscapes of the soul as we hear them in our minds.
We’ve worked quite iteratively, working off each other’s ideas and building the result that way. Through the years, this has been both a benefit and a challenge. We decided I’d explore my vision for the new record fully, which made the process a bit different from the earlier releases.
Generally, the lyrics are about the struggle to find meaning in existence and genuine connections and motivations. It’s about the inner struggle to give in to hope, despite our fears or doubts, about ourselves and especially other people.
Musi’s a way to channel those thoughts and moods without any other productive outlet. Then also, I think music lives within me regardless of whether I release it or not; I always need to create. It, in itself, creates meaning to existence. Music is just another way to express the thoughts otherwise present in me. Not so much religious as philosophical.
We don’t play metal in any sense, though we’ve drawn a fair bit of inspiration from black metal into our music and dark ambient and folk. At a young age, it started as it often does in a small record shop in Malmö, where I picked up some records and was lost in those atmospheres and moods.
It’s very subjective, but it’s a spiritual experience for me. However, that’s not true for all music, as music can be so many things. Neither is it created; equally, some music carries more intention than others. Though I do think that music is an innate part of our beings, and that’s why it’s been a part of human existence for so long, in so many shapes and forms.