Ambient Folk Artist Black Brunswicker Announces EP ‘A Moment of Clarity’ out 4/26; Shares “Nordic Winds”

March 22, 2024 BY Emma Orland

Ambient folk artist Black Brunswicker (a.k.a. Manchester-based musician Ethan Helfrich) has announced details of their upcoming new 6-track EP titled A Moment of Clarity, out on 26th April through Nettwerk. Pre-save HERE.

To accompany the announcement, Helfrich has shared a new single called ‘Nordic Winds’, watch the music video here and below. A rousing, clear-eyed opener on the EP, it evokes the sensation of gazing out into still blue water, much like its visual counterpart, and serves as a fittingly natural starting point for the six-part journey that stretches out across a bounty of expert guitar-playing. The gentle piece engages in a hypnotic game of repetition and texture, balancing a bright, meandering guitar melody against a cushion of effects pedals that create an impressionistic soundscape…

Black Brunswicker – Nordic Winds (Official Video):

Black Brunswicker creates rich ground for reflection with roaming instrumentals closely rooted in nature, casting a restful spell. The Bloomington, Indiana-born artist grew up in the Midwest and brings the sweeping plains of the landscape into their expansive guitar-led sound, drawing you closer to something primordial, vast, and earthy. Around 2019 saw a shift in their musical style, as they found themselves delving deeper into the fingerstyle technique of John FaheyJack Rose, and Robbie Basho — a catalysed love affair with folk and the American primitive canon that is now at the heart of their craft.

Accordingly bound up with a sense of adventure, much of Helfrich’s output has been shaped by the experience of travel, from the small trips taken around their new UK home on Wanderers in the North (2020) and the pastel-hued snapshot of the Czech Republic on Age of Aristocracy (2019) to the daydreaming that propelled the 2020 lockdown release Wilder Paths. 2022’s High Peaks surfaced following a trip to the Peak District. The sublime new release, A Moment of Claritylocates itself in cold, windy, beautiful Norway where Helfrich recently spent some time. The EP is a conversation between past and present, traversing across American primitive-style terrain with deft fingerpicked guitar while weaving in atmospherics that hint at ambient Americana or shoegaze.

2023 was an intensely emotional time for Helfrich. As such, A Moment of Clarity is above all a deeply personal record, one that plots a more vulnerable path on tracks such as ‘The Great Unease’, ‘This Bodily Curse’, and ‘The Frolic’. Here, Helfrich attempts to grapple with depression and feelings of gender dysphoria that unfolded during a “pretty tough” year in which they came out as trans non-binary. “Music has kind of been a way for me to work through my feelings and things like that”, they suggest. Layered with field recordings and performed in DGDEGD tuning, the previous single ‘The Bodily Curse’ came easily as a title and concept. “Because a lot of times, you know, your body does feel like a curse,” they explain. Similarly, ‘The Great Unease’ confronts this turbulence. “It’s been very uneasy and difficult to kind of go through and express a lot of these feelings that had been repressed for decades. And I thought, this works quite well for it because sound-wise, there’s something kind of uneasy about the track,” they say.

Within the scope of the EP, ‘The Frolic’ functions as a cathartic, optimistic closing track. “I think it kind of represents finding euphoria, you know, in being who you are,” they say. “It’s something to look forward to, to kind of see the good things in what’s been a pretty tough, big, long year.”

A Moment of Clarity – tracklist:

1. Nordic Winds

2. Olde Magicks

3. The Great Unease

4. Forest Spirits

5. This Bodily Curse

6. The Frolic