Fister, the eponymous recorded debut from Norska on vinyl is a no-frills beauty courtesy of Brutal Panda Records. There's no gatefold, no ultra-heavy vinyl, no decals nor decor. There's Side I, Side II, a single-sided insert and a simple sleeve. The music does the talking here but the little nuances elevate the physical product a notch above the norm.
The sleeve itself, designed by Tim Wenzel, is a manipulation of a famous 1918 photograph by Eric Enstrom (I assume everyone had at least one grandparent with this in their home as it feels as though my grandmother had one in every room). I cannot pretend to understand the juxtaposition of what appears to be a mushroom cloud emanating from what were previously hands folded in prayer but it pairs, for me, a familiar and sedate image (and I imagine for some, a comforting one) with something more sinister. The unnatural angle of a cloud that is already an aberration is jarring to the eye and gives the entire sleeve an appropriate air of unease. The image repeats on the insert which also provides a lyric sheet for the record's five tracks.
The album saw 500 records pressed in total, 300 black and 200 split in olive and forest green. I acquired one of the split copies and am absolutely thrilled when a band and label take care to fit the colors to the feel of the actual content. Both shades mirror life and decay, perfectly pairing with the lyrical content of Norska's music. Close inspection reveals tiny wisps of red and blue which, while likely simply a nice addition to give the colors some depth, almost create a circulatory system of sorts, making the record all the more organic and, ultimately, mortal.
Norska's self-titled debut can be purchased directly from Brutal Panda and is also streaming at Bandcamp.