The prize winner is Danish Clarissa Connelly with her album The Voyager. Read more about the best Nordic album of the year.
An international jury of experienced musicians named The Copenhagen based vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Clarissa Connelly as the artist of this year’s best Nordic album. She won over other Scandinavian album contestants such as Musti, Girl-in-Red, Nekromantheon and Ane Brun.
Adventurous and ambitious, but never bombastic
“After a year where the world has been locked down and learned to re-evaluate open spaces and freedom, this is a record that beckons you outdoors. Its fresh and radiant atmosphere, full of wonder and re-enchantment with nature, straddles both the structures and cadences of traditional Nordic folk music with abstract digital experimentation.
Adventurous and ambitious, but never bombastic or inaccessible, this is an artist with a foot in two cultures whose music similarly bridges the ancient and modern,” said Stuart Maconie (BBC) on behalf of the jury.
Has Clarissa scratched the surface of present-day Denmark and found a landscape rich in pre-Christian relics? She has at least composed all the album’s songs after visiting many of the ancient sites and a new voice is created in The Voyager.
This is the first time that the Nordic Music Prize goes to a Danish artist. The award honors artists and album formats as an art form. It has been arranged since 2010.
About the music of Clarissa Connelly
Clarissa Connelly originally hails from Fife in Scotland, but moved as a child to her mother’s homeland of Denmark. It’s from the latter country’s nature and history that Connelly primarily draws inspiration, along with modern influences like Kate Bush, Enya, Mike Oldfield and Joni Mitchell. The rich cultural heritage and mythology of the Viking Age is woven together with 80s-tinted pop arrangements to form a soundscape unlike any other. The Voyager follows two previously released cassettes on the Brystet label, 2015’s Come In Roses and 2018’s Tech Duinn.
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But Clarissa Connelly is not comparable to any other artists. The combination of Viking mythology and retro-pop is unique to the artist, and she does it incredibly intelligently. Some of her Scottish roots may be part of the explanation.
The album’s complex arrangements of multitracked vocals and manipulated guitars, piano and flute braid with the distinctively 1980s presets of her Korg M1 synthesizer. Guests joining her on the record include members of neo-shoegaze group Collider and string quartet Halvcirkel.
When her album The Voyager was released in November 2020, it was joined by the app Vandringen, created in cooperation with a series of Danish artists. In the app, the user can explore Danish heritage sites and learn about the history behind the sites.
Clarissa is fascinated by old buildings in cities. “Like a church, looking at the stones and wondering who built it,” she says. “But they’re only maybe a thousand years old. Looking at these more ancient sites, the burial mounds and Viking fortresses, that’s even further back into history. I just get awestruck and want to sing or write about it,” she continues.
Connelly is an artist with a foot in two cultures, and her music builds a bridge between the old and the modern.
Best Nordic Album of the Year, written by Tor Kjolberg