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Review: Kati Rán – Unnr | MINDBEACH (Single, 2020)

by Thiago Marques
Published: Updated: 0 comment 5 minutes read

Dutch singer and multi-instrumentalist Kati Rán returns with the new single Unnr | MINDBEACH, joined by renowned guest musicians.

Kati Rán started her solo career after the disbanding of L.E.A.F. in 2015. Her previous band released the album LYS, which already revealed Rán’s will to invite great folk musicians to join her on the studio. Back then, she was accompanied by the likes of Kai Uwe Faust and Maria Franz (Heilung), as well as Oliver S. Tyr (Faun), who was also her band mate in their earlier Dark Folk project, Folk Noir. She has also “returned the favor” and got on stage and in the studio with other greats artists such as Myrkur and Wardruna.

In 2018, she recorded vocals, nyckelharpa and percussion for the Dutch epic movie Redbad. She has also been involved with the recently released Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game, where she took the role of content consultant with the creative team of Ubisoft Montreal. She also performed in their annual Zeitgest event in 2018, where the Nordic thematic of the new installment was revealed.

It’s been two years after the release of the single Blodbylgje, when Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal (Gaahls WYRD, Trelldom, ex-Wardruna, ex-Gorgoroth) joined Rán for a walk on the beach, so to speak. That song embodied the flow of the waves, while diving deep on Norse mythology lyrically.


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This time, with MINDBEACH, the “walk on the beach” turned into a “horse ride on an Icelandic beach” at the beginning of the song. Here, we still feel the movement of the waves, however in a more sinuous pace than in Blodbylgje. While on the latter we can feel the urge to lose ourselves in our thoughts here and there, this time we are fully immersed in them, as if our minds were being carried away and washed back ashore by the waves. Rán’s beautiful and soothing voice and her Kraviklyra are quickly joined by Gaahl’s grave but calm singing and, soon afterwards, Karelian singer Yana Veva (Theodor Bastard) enters the scene with her unique and mysterious timbre.

One can feel the tide rising, when the sounds of the bass and the cello by Icelandic composer Borgar Magnason (Björk, Sigur Rós, Brian Eno), the guitar, played by Harald Juul (Euzen), and, finally, the nyckelharpa by Kati Rán herself, make the sound feel even more “full”, as if something dramatic was about to wake you up from the trance.

After nearly 10 minutes, you are left with the calmness of the waves again, with the trio of singers signalling the lowing of the tide, and the time to face the real world again., but with a new resolve.

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Lyrically, MINDBEACH respects the phraising and form of the Eddas. In order to do this in way that feels authentic, she received the help of two Icelandic experts: Palli Banine, who has worked with theater, film, fine art, poetry, among other disciplines, and the medieval philologist Teresa Dröfn Njarðvík, who has authored books on runes and poetry, as well as having written lyrics for many musicians from Iceland.

Unnr | MINDBEACH is an invitation for deep introspection that will leave the listener enchanted and relieved of heavy thoughts. Here’s to hoping that we’ll see a full-length following this same meditative piece of Nordic folk music.

The single was released on November 20th in limited digisleeve-CD with a poster booklet and digital format.


Produced, composed, arranged, performed and recorded by Kati Rán, 3Norns Productions, Netherlands
Produced, composed, recorded, mixed and mastered by Christopher Juul, Lava Studios, Denmark

Vocal, nyckelharpa, Kraviklyra, drum and midi by Kati Rán, Netherlands
Bass and cello composition by Borgar Magnason, Iceland
Guitar by Harald Juul, Denmark
Guest vocal by Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal, recorded by Iver Sandøy, Solslottet Studio, Norway
Guest vocal by Yana Veva, recorded by Fedor Svolotch, Theodor Bastard, Russia

Original lyrics and linguistic supervision by Kati Rán, Palli Banine, Theresa Dröfn

Graphic design by Adrian Urbaniak, SkogÅnd, Poland
Cover photography by Gígja Einarsdóttir, Iceland
Poster photography by Nona Limmen, Netherlands


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