The White Birch
Bass, Keyboards – Ulf Rogde
Cover, Design [Cover Design] – RM (11), The White Birch Cymbal Keyboards – Ingar Hunskaar
Drums, Percussion – Hans Christian Almendingen
Keyboards – Frode Løes Arnesen
Mastered By – Audun Strype
Mixed By – Helge Sten
Love Is So Real
WATCH & LISTEN
“What is happiness, anyway?” asks Ulf Rodge in a Berlin bar on a September evening in 2014. “What is it, actually?” Rodge was a keyboardist and bassist with The White Birch. Together with Hans Christian Almendingen and Ola Flottum, he released four albums and an EP between 1996 and 2005. After that, the band disappeared until Flottum, now solo, returned in early 2015 with “The Weight Of Spr
But 13 years earlier, at a time when the towers were falling in New York and The White Stripes, The Strokes and also The Libertines were pushing the renaissance of the guitar for a brief, exciting period, their masterpiece “Star Is Just A Sun” was released on Glitterhouse Records. Keyboard pads, piano melodies, walls of sound, a slowly pulsating bass, the husky echo of the drums, and Flottum’s warm, high voice laid over it.
The White Birch lined up on Glitterhouse next to Savoy Grand. With slowness against the now ever faster spinning news, against the onset of the digital age. It was the second wedding of slo-core. Perhaps Star Is Just A Sun could only emerge at this turning point in time. A memorial for silence.
It was the time of the last breath. Spex, Rolling Stone, Musikexpress, Intro, Visions were still the leading media, people were still talking about the existence of this one new band behind closed doors. Such a band were The White Birch in 2002. “A picture without darkness can’t be beautiful”, The White Birch said, and laid earth-colored shadows over their sweet, ensnaring melodies.
When they toured Germany in January 2003, they captured their audience and silenced them. Whether in the barn in Dresden, in the manufactory in Schorndorf or the Bastard in Berlin. Their stage became the highest point of the valley. They threw their music against the nearest mountain, and waited for the echo that slowly wafted back through the fog, and silent was the echo, and thoughtfully a melody slipped into the silence. „Let me call you Donau, like the sea in the river that flows in me.”
Like the Mark Hollis masterpiece “The Colour of Spring”, like Slint’s “Spiderland”, like Codeine’s “Frigid Stars”, or even like “Burn The Furniture” by labelmates Savoy Grand, the patina of time may have settled over “Star Is Just A Sun”, but this was already over the album in 2002, and is now changing only in nuances.
Star Is Just A Sun was unavailable for six long years, and the album never appeared on vinyl. Helge Sten (Supersilent, Motorpsycho, Nils Petter Molvaer) restored and remastered the original tapes. This winter, Glitterhouse Records is releasing a vinyl version for the first time. The CD is also released in a valuable digipack with booklet. First time. “Happiness,” one answers, “happens. It’s just there then. And when it’s there, we don’t see it, and when it disappears, we look for it.”
The pursuit of that one moment that unites everything, that is warmth and coldness, that is blurred and intangible, that rises unnoticed and passes unnoticed, that is to us an inkling of greatness and of perfect contentment. Traces of this can be found on “Star Is Just A Sun.”
Turn off the world, get involved with Star Is Just A Sun, and don’t be bothered. The music will shine through you. The power of silence. – Stephan Uersfeld