I heard that the new Ostara would be ‘back to basics’. I heard a few Myspace tracks and was not really convinced. It is the old minimalistic neofolk style. The album as a whole is a bit better than expected. Most songs are the minimalistic neofolk style, some of them are nice, some are just alright. There are a few more poppy songs and some songs have some nice additions in violin (Matt Howden) or other instruments. I guess this cd is for people who long for the days of “Secret Homeland” (not not Strength Through Joy, the ‘wayback machine’ did not go that far). I like those early albums mostly because they were surprising at the time of release, but “The Only Solace” does not bring anything really new and not all songs are great, so… just a nice album I guess.
Links: Ostara, Trisol
It is funny. I learned about Ostara when Richard Leviathan sent me an email when the first cd was released. I found Strength Through Joy just alright, so I hadn’t heard “Secret Homeland” yet. When I did, I didn’t like it, too progressive or something. The album proved to be one of the few that grew on me. Usually I immediately hear if I like something, “Secret Homeland” became a good album after various rounds in my player. Then there were “Whispers To The Soul” (2001) and “Kingdom Gone” (2002) which are the best Ostara recordings in my opinion. With “Ultima Thule” the progressive and folky neofolk sound (which has already set new standards for the scene) was replaced for a more poprock oriented style. I like the album, but I already expected that this was probabaly the last Ostara album that I would enjoy. When “Immaculate Destruction” was released, I listened to a few mp3-snippets and decided that this album is not for me. Now I have the whole album and my conclusion stays. The first cd contains rather straightforward poprock, the second cd is a bit more experimental, but still not too much of my liking. u
I don’t buy most neofolk cds, but of course there are also bands that I do like and Ostara is one of them. If you follow the band a little, you will already have 5 of the 12 tracks of this cd, which is a bit of a pitty. “Kingdom Gone” opens with the brilliant “Bavaria” that we of course already got from the mp3.com page. “Hammer Of Ages” is new and nice. “The Trees March North” was already available on the 10″. “March Of The Rising Sun” is an experimental ‘industrial’ track showing that Ostara means to continue to push the boundaries of the genre. Songs 5 and 7 (“Overworld” and “Never Weep”) were already available on the picture 7″ and 10″ and also 10. “Divine Wind” comes from the “Whispers To The Soul” 10″. The new songs 6. “Sword Of Reverie”, 9. “Life’s Symmetry” and 11. “Transsylvania” are very beautiful (especially the last), quite melancholic actually. And speaking of pushing boundaries, 8. “Talenokai” is some kind of techno/trance like track that is nice, but a bit too long. The closer is a slightly darker track “Kingdom Gone”. Overall resulting in a wonderfull cd of almost an hour.
The back had the well-known photo of Richard Leviathan and Timothy Jenn, but Leviathan will continue Ostara alone with guest musicians.
Ostara joined the ranks of Eislicht who now release this 10″ which was originally supposed to be a mcd on World Serpent.
Side A contains all known songs, both Never Weep and Overworld from the picture 7″ (also reviewed somewhere) and The Trees March North which has been available as mp3 from the band’s webpage for a while. All three very poppy neo-folk songs going a few steps further than the first Ostara cd of a while back. Side B opens with a strange experimental track and then we get two live songs. The end of the 10″ proves that there is also a dark side to Ostara…… Get a copy if you can!
Waiting for future releases we are kept silent with a wonderfull 7″. Two modest and very poppy neo-folk songs going a bit further than on the “Secret Homeland” cd. Eh, what more is there to say?
Aha, now I get the story. This 7″ was supposed to be rereleased as a mcd with two extra tracks by World Serpent, but since Ostara left World Serpent this will be a 10″ on Eis & Licht.
Ostara is the new incarnation of Richard Leviathan and Timothy Jenn who made name with the well-known neo-folk band Strength Through Joy. Ostara seems to be a continuation or evolution that couldn. t bear the same name.
In some way you can say that Ostara is the next step in neo-folk music or at least a modern and more accesible version of it. Some songs sound a bit like the previous band, while most songs have a lot less of the ‘classic’ neo-folk sound.
A big difference for example is the way the strikers are used. Another point is the use of a slide guitar. Most remarkably -though- is the way the percussion is used. Especially the last element gives this cd the ‘poppy’ sound that you may have heard off. Also the way of singing often adds to this. Then there are female backing vocals at times. Anyway, whereas some songs are still pretty neo-folkish, other more sound like romantic popsongs which is something that you may have to get used to.
I have heard this cd a couple of times when I write this review. I like it better than the first time. Secret Homeland is definitely a cd that has to grow on you. I praise the courage to reach so far for the borders of popmusic and surely think highly of the progressive urge of this release. Why should World Serpent neo-folk. always sound more or less the same?
Still, Secret Homeland is not too much of my taste. I think it is alright, but not smashing. Some nice songs, some less nice. <23/6/00><3>
Well, I feel like something has to be added. The songs of Secret Homeland keep haunting around in my head which makes me put on the cd once in a while. Every time I play it, I like it better and now I’m up a point that I actually really like Secret Homeland. Also I keep hearing new things in the background and nice melodies that had passed me before. This seriously is the first time that it took me so lang to appreciate a cd. I usually can tell if I like something after one time playing, sometimes I need two or three times of playing, but seldom have I to adjust my opinion. Here I do have to, a little, so with a new date, comes a new rating. <19/8/00><4>