It’s surprising that Brynilde is based in the US, given her artist name, which is a permutation of the Old Scandinavian “Brunhilda” as well as the timbre of her exquisite soprano, which is spot on for ancient Nordic folk songs, a’la YouTube star Jonna Jinton. Brynilde’s debut album, The Sound of the Winter Sun, which came out last month, also has track names like “Priestess or Shieldmaiden.” Actually a French expat, one might think that Brynilde is based in Sweden or Norway. It turns out she’s just a lover of all things ancient and has made it her mission on this album to fuse that soul and sentiment with the modern world.
With a passion for the world of antiquity, Brynilde has studied the ancient cultures and traditions not only of the Nords but the Greeks, and Greek philosophy, Buddhism and French Renaissance philosophers like Descartes. All these messages sort of converge in the message of the album, which is about the contrast of life and finding beauty in that contrast. Brynilde sums it up best herself:
Inspired by ancient symbols, folktales, and alchemic processes, melodies and lyrics started emerging from my psyche. My first album, the Sound of the Winter Sun, was born. The artistic expression has been a tool to heal and free myself, exorcise some emotions, and feed my soul. My songs explore different themes, such as identity, courage, authenticity, addiction, individuation, reality, and spirituality, with the same overarching goal of breaking free from the chains of perceptions and emotional triggers.
It almost sounds like a bonus for Brynilde that the album came out of all this soul-searching, but that’s what makes it so authentic. Musically just as much of a mélange as the subjects and studies that created it, The Sound of the Winter Sun mixes ambient sound design and orchestral backing arrangements with Brynilde’s picth-perfect soprano and masterful piano playing to create just the windswept, sunny-day-in-winter feeling the album’s title conjures.
The Sound of the Winter Sun gets its indie edge partially from the percussion, performed by Leo Margarit of Pain of Salvation fame, who also produced the album, which is syncopated, varied and goes through loads of tempo changes. In album opening track “The Descent,” an analog jazz snare hearalds so many tempo changes, in fact, that along with the composition it pushes the whole sound into a much more edgy territory, and Brynhilde’s vox from Sarah Brightman to Kate Bush. Similarly, the following track “Priestess or Shieldmaiden” has big, heavy and folksy-sounding drums which follow the somewhat unstructured verses of the vocals. Still heavily composed and cinematic, the primalness of the drums connects the ancient to the modern.
In other tracks like “Ungracefulness,” guitars are what send the music in a more indie or rock direction; heavy, grungy and slightly goth with the orchestral arrangements, listeners should be able to catch a bit of Evanesence or even a bit of Brightman’s Phantom contained therein. Yet others are lighter and really leave Brynilde to her own devices with her piano, such as another song that references antiquity, “Hecate.” It’s honestly more than enough with Brynilde’s voice alone. It beggars belief that earlier in her career she felt she had vocal pitching problems.
The track that best sums up Brynilde’s sound, message and purpose on The Sound of the Winter Sun is probably “Echos de Tonnerre” (fr. “echoes of thunder”). Singing in her native French, there’s even more depth and honesty here to Brynilde’s voice and even if the listener doesn’t understand the lyrics, the emotion there really calls back to her original purpose for making this album. Paired with closer “I See Beauty,” It’s clear that this album was a journey of emotions, struggles and contrasts, but at the end comes such a beautiful reward.
With a style that’s already so developed, it still seems that after The Sound of the Winter Sun Brynilde can still go in any direction she wants. She could do a full-on EDM album and be absolutely lauded, or she could stay in her current niche of indie ambient. With talent and skill as well as a high-vibration message, the healing Brynhilde gives herself and the world through her music cannot be understated.