‘The Night Hag’ is a longform piece, and it’s been specifically designed to induce sleep. The collected efforts of Kreng and Svarte Greiner are responsible for sending the listener to dreamland, but in the depths of sleep, one can encounter nightmares as well as the sweetest of dreams. Sleeping music is often relaxing, soothing, and devoid of drama, but Kreng and Svarte Greiner aren’t exactly lullaby-makers.
Sleep paralysis was the inspiration behind The Night Hag, and the thought immediately puts the mind into a state of foreboding. The thirty-three minute nap begins with a hush, as a tired body slips out of the physical plane. Swept along by a hazy, barely-there soundwave, the listener is carried gently, bobbing as if on a river, spiralling into sleep. But The Night Hag soon changes course, and the record is the very embodiment of disquiet. Like the trapped terrors of paralysis, one cannot escape from its clutches; there’s nothing one can do to escape, save for ride it out.
Darker textures slowly arise, but the sound remains thin, mirroring a dream that’s capable of changing scene and situation in an instant. These darker textures resemble a deepening sleep-state, an unusual new world where anything is possible and anything could be hiding around the bend. The landscape feels as dark and as hooded as the night, where, back home and far away from the distant land, our nocturnal sleeper lies. The music shifts with subtlety, adding to the hallucinatory atmosphere of the record.
The inability to move instils an intense and immediate fear. Eyes stare upwards, looking blindly up at the dark ceiling while the dream invades, slipping into the room and posing as a slim, menacing figure. In fact, a main symptom of sleep paralysis is experiencing such a vision, of seeing a person or a Demon-like figure in the room. If that isn’t frightening enough, imaginary voices merge with the visual hallucination to plague the prone victim. Out-of-body experiences are also common, along with a feeling of being suffocated. Demons, night hags, and alien abduction have all been woven into the fabric of sleep paralysis, but there’s a scientific and rational explanation behind the condition. The same is true of The Night Hag’s music, which doesn’t entertain the supernatural, but presents the condition in a realistic (and all the more frightening) way, with more of an emphasis on subtlety and creeping threat.