Original Issue: 2008 Kraftplatz (KRPL 01) Buy it here!!!
Original Issue: 2008 Kraftplatz (KRPL 02) Buy it here!!!
Margot-meter: 5 moons / 5
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from Heathen Harvest:
I was stepping right behind this band since the last year, marauding after it like a hunter behind a magnificent elk through high peaks and somber woods. This image may very well represent the mood of the music contained in “Urdarbrunnen” second album from this fantastic German neo-folk conformation dealing with nature, mysticism and a clear medieval influx in a way that presents them as an original and highly qualified musical compendium of the newest neo-folk breed. The production runs by none less than Axel Frank which adds with his presence a special insight and somehow magical aura. This is one of the best works from 2008 without a doubt, so get ready for the hunt. In the end this magical forest entity represented in the music from Falkenstein submits any hunter to his simple observation and respect, like any creature from Herne’s reign should do.
The tranquil melancholy that slips from the very first chord comes as cold breeze, a cloud of delicate drops of water splashing from a huge water cascade(just like the art cover!) marked by the snare that gives a touch of strong spiritual martialness. These following the tradition of classic neo-folk instrumentation: Guitar, dual male chorus and tenor like voice accompanied by delicate snares and a drum that serves as a vivid natural heart beat the music follows its introductory course with “Funkenfeuer” displaying all the awesome quality from Falkenstein at first sight. A quality of mystery derive from the voice at moments and a sense of ritual repetitiveness beautifully accommodates the more enhanced musical parts and chorus, making it more appellative and delicious for the listener, enjoying every bit of each passage represented. “Sonnerkraut” introduces a sweet flute melody that daintily settles like falling leaves in the music cadence, giving this soft touch that slips the listener in a very romantic and inspired pathos, subtle and gently compensated with the tenor tone of the vocals, a vocal set that sounds earthly and revitalizing. “Unter der weide” comes in a more epic Germanic fashion, accentuating the percussive aspect and introducing a synth line that comes as trumpets from forgotten castles while the guitar strolls with strong rhythmic passages, here the works starts to deliver more strength than beforehand just to increase this direction in the following songs. “Erlkoenig” & “Die odaliske” synchronizes both aspects; the melancholic bucolic feeling and some well poured folky martial touch but still able to preserve the subtlety and delicacy that consolidates their composition.
It is on “Grau sind masken” that the music takes again a distinctive turning point that exalts the spirit of any sensible listener, reaffirming the pathos and the vanguard of its unique sound . Slowly the guitar and the flute manifest its peaceful pastoral cadence, a beautifully crafted melody that achieves both the impression of the heart and the spirit aflame and then, right in the middle of the song just like an accidental apparition the rhythmic equilibrium and traditional pace gets switch into a thunderous folk march in a quasi sixties operative outburst fashion, a bit of protest music accent is perceived as influence and the trouvadoresque guitar play is really a vanguard bet in here. This song alone comes as one of the aces from the whole compendium of great songs that constitute the album, truly the pounding heart from the body work.
Now the album steps away again from the predetermined formula from the songs beforehand and the neo-folk tradition. The addition of a violin accompanying the guitar along with the excellent vocal and chorus arrangements transcends the common ground of other neo-folk formations giving the music an almost classic tonality by means of composition. All the elements and turns contained, all the wide versatile musical display of the work shows the outstanding power and capacity from this band and its rather difficult not to get impressed by the music or the spiritual quest inside its core, track by track there is an evident union that adheres to each piece making a wholeness that puts the listener in a position where its a guest and advocator.
“Siegfried schwert” comes as another division this time mixing pastoral like cadence with the epic tone displayed at some sections. It is important to note that the martial tone is never obfuscating or predominant but rather accomplishes a moral accompaniment that diverts the spirit and empower the melody. Not a march but rather an endorsement to the natural cadence of the folk tune. The following songs: “Der sonnwendmann”, “Halfdan, Ragnar’s son”, “Blummentod” and “Walpurgisnacht” accomplish a narrative quest full of mythos and more traditional neo-folk construction respecting the distinctive aspect that defines Falkenstein, particular cadence, use of rhythmic drums, flutes and snare with the Spanish guitar rambling its excellently crafted melodies and everything fusing perfectly in a whole resume of incomparable beauty and ecstatic sensibility. Another surprise awaits the listener with the apparition of “Weltenbaum” a song that originally appeared on the first album takes here a different approach, introducing the flute as prologue to later commence with the chorus and from there on preserving the ritual martialness available on the previous version, comparatively beautiful in its own particular incarnation. This ritual aspect in the drum section marks a rule inside the album and serves a practical functionality for the epilogue as the final song increases this sentiment. “Heiliger holunder” is markedly ritual and remits to strange mountain ceremonies around a gigantic blaze with people dancing at night, the chorus and the rhythm marks an almost tribal cadence while the guitar and the drum join arms in their mighty graceful dance. The reign of Falkenstein is now fully explored in this album with this final ritual.
The sweetness and light found inside this album transcends the common stereotyped notion from standard neo-folk associations, ritualistic and melancholic with heavy influx of classic arrangements, ingrainedly melodic the works centres its magic from the chemical perfection of all these aggregations . Its originality comes from the extremely elasticity and fragility that comes from every piece although preserving a strange modus operandi that allows drums to play their role without devastating the sweet cadence of the melody. The chorus lines made with two male voices, both tenor, one high pitched and the other low adds another special touch to the magic that Falkenstein summons with their music. A band that steps away from the stagnation of the genre by giving mobility and vanguard to their compositions, aside from adding uncommon aspects to the neo-folk aesthetic, who said classic composition and ritual martialness, folky melodies and graceful heathenism cannot coexist together? “Urdarbrunnen” teaches an important lesson in musical heterogeneity and syncretism, the marvellous configuration of apparent dissimilar orders and finalities (just like ritual folklore and classicism joining together and fitting perfectly) that presents a sense of union during the whole work, making song by song and track by track a cohesive and inspiring experience for the listener. Very well worked, highly recommended!