It used to be...

...that creatures of folklore and myth held sway over the human mind and bounded its morality at the penumbra of human comprehension. But over the years, as technology advanced, human hubris turned into fearlessness, and nature lost its hallowed place in lore. Mythology faded into the recesses of the subconscious, surfacing occasionally in the traditions of artists and flights of the imagination.

At first, Nøkken was timid to leave his watery home in the marshes and rivulets of the Uncanny Valley. The human world has become a bizarre place, far removed from its animal existence. At the same time, people have become increasingly enamored with electronic devices and computers, they have become distrustful of that which lies outside of their knowledge, especially those who strive to understand it. Meanwhile, conflicts over spirituality and science have become mainstay, and the Dionysian revelry of art and imagination has seen itself ensnared by privation.

Alas, the Nøkk's innate curiosity got the better of him, and so now he finds himself in a digital world, wholly alien to a water spirit such as himself. As he scrapes by on his craft like so many others - haunting melodies that once captivated human beings, moved the leaves of the forest, and lured unsuspecting travelers to drown in his river - he ponders the fate of other spirits and of the natural world herself. Like any other destitute spirit of nature amidst these concrete crags, you might just catch him at an ATM, waiting for a bus, or busking on the street corner and never realize what he is.


 Left to right: Ajatar (Karli Leal, violist), Nøkken (Justin Scheibel, violinist), Peryton (Stephen Ian Savage, multi-instrumentalist, composer)  Photographer: Andrew E. Savage,

Left to right: Ajatar (Karli Leal, violist), Nøkken (Justin Scheibel, violinist), Peryton (Stephen Ian Savage, multi-instrumentalist, composer)

Photographer: Andrew E. Savage,


The influx of displaced spirits into human civilization has seen many obscure entities unveil themselves to no great wonder or horror. Otherworldly musicians and beings have been forced to join society as it encroaches upon their sacred wilderness at the fringes of thought. Some have abandoned their original roles to imitate human beings and become absorbed by them, each consumed in turn by mandibles of human ubiquity. Some have joined together to create desperate music against this voracious species, hoping to inspire something else, even if uncertain what.

Nøkken formed "Nøkken + The Grim" in 2015 in Austin, Texas, where the heart of musical culture still beats within the pulses of the city. The Grim are other uncanny spirits who have joined him in song, who have also found themselves in the plight of artists everywhere.

Alongside him is Peryton, the mystical feathered stag, who has transformed his wild calls into woodwinds and keys. At one point he even captured the imagination of Jorge Luis Borges. It seems he has long since stopped casting the shadow of a stag and now casts the shadow of a man. Nøkken finds the implications amusing.

Ajatar, the wyvernish devil of the woods, has taken up the viola. She was once widely feared and misunderstood across Finland as the bearer of pestilence and misfortune. Now, she plays a stringed instrument with undoubtedly esoteric motives. Nøkken hopes some of them are to assist in sewing incomprehensible, musical chaos, although horses and dragons have never really understood each other.

Adapting to technology has been a difficult process, and the spirits have decided to ensnare their listeners with music to scrape by as modest musicians among the forests of steel and glass. The allure of the dark and inhuman remains a creeping vine around the human imagination. They prefer smokey bars, where rhythms are veiled in acrid plumes.

For Nøkken, being a shapeshifter and sometimes assuming the form of the brook horse, the Bäckahäst, makes life a daily struggle. Keeping the monstrous desire to lure unsuspecting listeners to the lake and claim their souls subdued is a full-time job. It is a wary business ordering tacos while sporting a tail and eying a perhaps more delicious soul.

When he is not performing, he might be teaching those who dare to learn the art, writing music in words, or doing whatever it is that water-spirit-violinist-equinoid-shapeshifters do.

In any case, I have rambled enough. But I wish to caution the audacious listener with this last thought. The music of the natural world lies just beyond the reach of the human mind, where its sublime indifference conceals dangers to the listener's sanity in straining to understand. Disparity revels in the hidden folds of a chord where illusions dance and madness hums.

Location: Austin, Texas
Established: 2015
Genre: Neofolk, Folktronica, Electroacoustic