The Nine Realms is an album of fantasy orchestral compositions inspired by ancient Norse mythology and folklore. The album mixes modern orchestral writing with ancient instruments and vocal techniques inspired by Old Nordic culture. A team of musicians and singers worked diligently to produce – and perform – the Old Norse language featured throughout the album. Great care was taken to represent these elements as authentically as possible. The music is as expansive and expressive as the worlds and stories it represents.
I have always been inspired by ancient mythologies and wanted to create an album that explored these mythological worlds. A lot of the lyrics on The Nine Realms are taken from Viking Age poetry (“prose edda”) and from other sagas Old Norse mythological sagas. I built my own versions of the ancient Viking instruments to use on The Nine Realms including the tagelharpa (below, left) and the double octave lyre (below, right).
To give the project its required authenticity, I wanted to work with a host of musicians who could accurately cover Norse mythology. I was lucky enough to meet Marianne Tahleuh in the early stages of the project. I rather jokingly asked my friend on a call if he knew any Old Norse speaking Scandinavian singers that wanted to work on a project that involved multiple ancient techniques and styles, to which he replied with a quite surprising, “yes...I do actually.” Marianne is a Sámi/Norwegian historian with haunting singing abilities which range from more traditional Scandinavian techniques to joik. On our journey to create The Nine Realms, we found other fantastic musicians to work with and the team grew.
Top (L-R): David Lombardi, Ole Jørgen Gullesen, Marianne Tahleuh
Bottom (L-R): Aiden Appleton; Emilie Cody, Rob Foster
The artwork for the album and the two single releases (pictured below) is made on exotic wood pyrography and inspired by Old Norse jewellery. I worked with Norse translation expert Birger Niehaus so the album features authentic Scandinavian runes (“Younger Futhark”). I think this unique way of making artwork complements the fantasy world of The Nine Realms.
The Nine Realms is more than an album – it's an immersion into ancient Norse mythology expressed through orchestrations and singing. The compositions are a balance of modern and ancient sounds – and each of them embodies the Old Norse language, Viking Age poetry, and is performed using reconstructed ancient instruments. The album is a tribute to the Scandinavian mythological universe with every pluck of the lyre and every utterance in Old Norse producing an echo of a bygone era.