Vinterriket is the solo and main project of Christoph Ziegler from Germany (also in Nebelkorona, Atomtrakt, Battle Dagorath, Fräkmündt, Dânnâgôischd, Sturmpercht). He started this band in 1996 and he has countless releases since then. Most of his albums belong in the dark ambient genre, with folk / neofolk elements and some black metal albums or songs. The album “Garðarshólmur” was released in 2012 directly by Vinterriket and it is one of his most special releases.
First of all “Garðarshólmur” is not just a music album, but also a photo album with wonderful pictures from the beautiful nature of Iceland. All photographs are taken by a friend of Christoph, who also does the vocals (recitations in German) for this album. It is released in a deluxe A5 sized digibook in landscape layout with 124 high quality colored pages that follow a specific “aesthetic motif” from beginning to end: one page is a complete photo and the next includes a thin horizontal photo stripe on black background with a small part of the lyrics, or the complete lyrics at the beginning of each song. As for the music itself, Vinterriket create a unique soundtrack for this dark lonely melancholic journey, giving breath to all these amazing photos. “Garðarshólmur” belongs in the ambient works of the band, without any metal of folk elements at all. There are totally 6 songs in the album, each one about 10 minutes long, so its total duration is 59 minutes.
I am not an “expert” in ambient music, since all I know about this atmospheric minimalistic genre comes from bands related to black metal, or releases from metal labels. But what I can tell for sure, is that Vinterriket is by far the best ambient band I have ever listened to! And “Garðarshólmur” comes just to make the distance from any other band even greater. The characteristic quality and personal identity of Christoph’s synths is enriched in this work by nature sounds, mostly waves and birds and very sad atmospheric recitations. I totally recommend this collectible piece of art to all ambient music fans. It’s limited to 250 hand-numbered copies, so you better visit the band’s official page if you want to get a copy. It is of course more expensive than a typical CD, but the wonderful package is totally worth its price!