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Of The Wand & The Moon * The Lone Descent (cd 2012)

I hardly listen to neofolk, but OTWATM is a band that I do like. I hardly listen to him either though, his music is too melancholic and albums sound too much alike, so skipped a few. Still being curious about the latest attempt, I got myself “The Lone Descent”. It opens brilliantly with a sunspot on Kim’s soul, a quite cheerfull song in which it seems that the 1960’ies psychedelic folk sound also crept into OTWATM. The website of the band says: “No More Happy Songs!” and “”The Lone Descent” is without doubt the most bleak and melancholic album from Of The Wand & The Moon”. Eh? I think I disagree. I do agree with this though: “Again Kim Larsen takes another road than the previous albums. 60’s influenced, where the love for Lee Hazlewood and Serge Gainsbourg shines through.” Very well done too this new sound of OTWATM. It is not like all songs are happy and poprocky, there are also some oldstyle songs, a few melancholic songs with gooseflesh-raising orchestrations, but there is a nice balance with more rock- and folk-oriented songs which makes “The Lone Descent” more managable than entirely depressing albums. A very good album that I might play more often than previous ones.
Link: Of The Wand And The Moon / Heiðrunar Myrkruna

Roma Amor * Occhi Neri (cd 2012)

The third album of Roma Amor is less cabaratesk dramatic as the previous albums. Most songs are soft and (by lack of a better word) folky. The style remains the 1950’ies type of French chansons, but there is only one great heartbreaker (“Mon Amour”). The other songs are more subdued. The album is still quite beautiful, but I like the previous two better.
Links: Roma Amor, Old Europa Cafe

Blood Axis * Ultimacy (cd 2011)

The people who were present at last Friday’s Blood Axis show in Waregem, Belgium, were the lucky ones who could get the latest cd on the first possible day. “Ultimacy” is an overview of the carreer of Blood Axis, presenting newly produced (by Robert Ferbrache) compilation and 7″ tracks in reversed chronological order. I (of course) had most of them already. However Michael Moynihan usually is abundant with information in his booklets, saying where samples come from, etc., “Ultimacy” does not even say where the tracks originally appeared. I first heard Blood Axis on the 1996 compilation “Mysteria Mithrae”. I knew about the track “Electricity” that appeared on “The Lamp Of Invisible Light” compilation of 1991, but these contributions are here listed as tracks 9 and 10 from 14! Still, “Ultimacy” is subtitled: “MCMXCI – MMMXI”, so the next four tracks have to have appeared in 1991 as well. The tracks concerned are “Light”, “Eternal Soul (Germania mix)”, “The Storm Before The Calm” and… “Walked In Line”. The only track from “Ultimacy” that I did not have, is the Alraune song “Mandragora”. The cd is of course musically varying. From folksongs such as “The March Of Brian Boru” to the dark soundscapes of “Der Gefallene Engel” and the old bombast of “Electricity”. In most cases I hear but little of the re-producing of the tracks. Especially “Lord Of Ages” would do well with a ‘ticker’ mixing. Overall “Ultimacy” makes a very enjoyable cd with tracks that not every new Blood Axis fan may know.
Blood Axis / Storm

Blood Axis * Born Again (cd 2010)

To be honest, I did not have too high expectations for “Born Again”. The early Blood Axis sound is about my most favourite music, later albums became less dark and bombastic and in recent years it became obvious that Blood Axis was evolving towards more of a folkrock sound. In that tradition “Born Again” comes as no surprice. Especially in the beginning, the sound is quite folkrock, lateron more folky, but a lot of songs are both folky and poppy and actually better-sounding than I expected! Many tracks are nicely catchy and there is still a lot of focus on Moynihan’s voice and the texts that he chose or wrote. In the earlier track it seems as if Moynihan has made a leap in his spiritual development, but in later tracks the lyrics are not all that joyous. The album comes in a luxery digipack with a booklet featuring all lyrics (translated if needed) on heavy paper. A great album.
Link: Blood Axis, Storm Records
See here for the most read-worthy lyrics.

Blood Axis / Andrew King * split 7″ (2010)

  • folk

Blood Axis is born again! This split 7″ announces an album in 2010 and after all these years there is some kind of a Blood Axis website with is updated (a Myspace with new songs)! Actually two albums are announced for the end of this year according to the fan-site, “Born Again” and “Ultimacy”, a compilation with compilation tracks and rare releases. Hearing the latest songs that Blood Axis made, I am sure that you too expected a folk song, right? Especially on a split with Andrew King. “The Dream” is a nice folk(rock) song in middle high German with a few electronic elements. Andrew King also made a nice song in middle high German with a repetative folk sound. Limited to 500 copies, so probably sold out in no time.
Links: Blood Axis, Andrew King

Changes * Lament (cd 2010)

Changes is not my favourite band, but they always have a few nice songs. “Lament” starts with a piano track and continues with a bit too usual Changes folk music. Fortunately furtheron there are some other styles such as an OFWATM like song and some more experimental and less (neo)folky tracks. “Lament” has new and new versions of old songs. I am not ravingly enthousiastic about this new album, but as always, there are a few very nice songs here.
Links: Changes, Hau Ruck!

Divine Muzak * Maison Skinny (cd 2009)

It has been five years since the interesting debut of this Romenian duo. “Dialogue” mixed different kinds of music into an interesting style. On “Divine Skinny” there is again a mix of styles, but the result differs from the previous album. After hearing the Myspace tracks I got myself a copy of the new album, but I must say that I am disappointed by it. The cd opens interestingly with a mix between folk and industrial, but most of the tracks are rather bluesy, minimalistic, slow tracks, mixed with electropop and other poppy sounds. Especially the female vocals are not my thing (I prefer the photos of the very skinny Julie in the booklet) and the music is quite boring at times. I do like the fact that the bands presents something very uncommon and perhaps some more (than four) listenings will make the album grow a bit, but I can currently not give too much praise to it.
Links: Divine Muzak, Punch Records

Roma Amor * Femmina (cd 2009)

Last year Roma Amor released a nice untitled debut album. They describe their style as “folk / neo-cabaret” which is a good description. Slightly reminding of Edith Piaff, Roma Amor has an enigmatic singer and nice, smooth music which is also very nice to see/hear live. This second album is quite the same as the debut, just as good, no change in style or really new elements. So, again nice and I guess you should get it when you liked the debut.
Links: Roma Amor, Old Europa Café

Gae Bolg And The Church Of Fand * Petite Introduction Aux Pratiques Des Gymnosophes (2009)

Petite Introduction aux Pratiques des GymnosophesWow, it has been almost 10 years since Gaë Bolg suddenly appeared in the scene with their crazy medieval drumming sound with trumpets, weird singing and idiotic costumes. According to Discogs recordings of their 9/9/00 legendary show in an Amsterdam squat (which I attended) has been released already five years ago. I liked Gae Bolg’s earlier sound, but I did not really follow them after the “Oran Môr” vinyls because they were not all that good. Besides, the band brings some humour to the scene, but I do not often feel like playing humoruous music. So with a gap of about 8 years, I decided to get myself the latest attempt of the “Grand Maistre de la Gymnosophie”. The music seems to have become even more crazy than in the early days. Drumming, singing and copper, they are still present, but also discobeats and manic “lalala”s. Gae Bolg definately have not lost their touch, so this is a nice release should I ever feel like crazy music.
Links: Gae Bolg, Le Cluricaun

Solanaceae * s/t (cd 2009)

SolanaceaeKim Larsen of Of The Wand And The Moon apparently wanted to make a more folk and a less neofolk album, so he did and he released it under another name on his own label. Solanaceae has very minimalistic folk songs, while in other songs there are many instruments. There is one song that reminds me of Fire + Ice, but most songs are supposedly in the “psychedelic folk” style. The songs and slow, moody and melancholic (but not as much as Of The Wand) and most of them are quite beautiful.
Link: Solanaceae / Heiðrunar Myrkrunar