Three years, two EPs and one album since his Siberian sojourn, Keith Birthday of Norwegian Arms has turned his focus away from the confines of his tiny apartment in the Taiga which largely informed the songs on Wolf Like a Stray Dog. That doesn't mean that the sunny folk music generated by his time in Tomsk, Russia has become any less relevant, or that the sound has changed drastically. Instead, it's morphed from real-time cultural awe and suffering to nostalgia, and while the memories remain, new ones have taken their place. That being said, nothing has, or perhaps ever will, replace the childhood mandolin on which these songs are written, perhaps the only constant in this ever-evolving project.
In the time since returning to his native Philadelphia, Birthday has found new beauty in the wreckage that surrounds his post-industrial warehouse apartment. Dilapidated buildings, shifting friendships, and late night bicycle rides inform this new batch of songs, a celebration of deeper personal understanding. Still deeply influenced by his continued travels, these new songs draw from trips to South America and Europe, and the sense of Wanderlust remains.
Still obsessed with languages and their systems, Birthday refers to these new songs as imperfective, referring to verb 'aspect' present in Slavic languages, which focuses on the current process, not a past event or a future result. He still feels strongly that it's about the journey, not the destination.
They released their debut album "Wolf Like a Stray Dog" on January 15 2013. It is available on their website norwegianarms.bandcamp.com.
The record is comprised of eleven introspective songs written during songwriter/mandolinist Brendan Mulvihill’s year long fellowship in Tomsk, Russia, nestled in the heart of Siberia. Self- described as an “ember glowing in the distance of an otherwise frozen taiga”, Wolf Like A Stray Dog deals with themes of homesickness, discovery, frustration, and wanderlust.
Thematically, it is an album about the quest for identity, a resistance to permanence, adapting to new environments, questioning one's knowledge and perspective, and never being satisfied with what you know. It's wanderlust and curiosity, distilled and neatly packaged into sonic bursts of intense energy. Simply put, it’s apparent that Norwegian Arms suffers from a chronic case of the human condition.
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