-'OK, I didn't see that one coming.'These words were the first I wrote down while listening to Paya Lehane 's first solo album. And I really didn't. I did expect the CD to be different from the music Paya makes with Perkelt . What sense would there be in doing a solo album if you are gonna play exactly the same music again. I imagined it to be a lot slower, but still pagan folk, still with the flute as a main instrument. How wrong I was.
The first notes of Bohemia
reveal a synthesiser combined with harp and Paya's voice doubled into a choir. The music is calm, soothing, a real mix between Celtic pop and pagan folk. Then we hear real percussion mixed with programmed drums. As the song continues the sound becomes more and more complex, carefully build layer upon layer, a sound we know so well from Enya
's music. It's grand, orchestral yet soothing. Wonderful music, and not a recorder or flute in sight! As I said, I did not expect that! But what a pleasant surprise.
In the second song, Oppidamus
, Paya's trademark instrument, the recorder, makes its entrance, but again the electronic synth sound comes to the foreground. The flute is recorded clean though and sounds Native American, electronic drums give a nice dance feel to the song and the doubled vocals glide through it all on a blanket of sythesiser. Overall Oppidamus
sounds like the perfect marriage between Enya, Adiemus
, acoustic pagan folk and the beats of Deep forest
, and I can't help myself but dance to it.
Another thing that I'm starting to notice is an unknown language. At first I though it to be Czech, (Paya was born in the Czech Republic), but no. It's a fictional language that she uses in the same way that Adiemus composer Karl Jenkins
does, creating a new world. In her own words: 'You might come across a few songs with a language you are not able to place, that is because it is a unique fictional language created to evoke an ancient world which can be found only in your imagination.' And it works. The voice becomes an instrument that carries a mood, that carries emotions. And as a listener you flow with it.
Sometimes Paya gives a small clue where to go, as she does with the title of the third song, Waiting… Read More
Some albums deserve a special treatment. And Mythos , the second CD of the German band Waldkauz , is one of them. When it arrives, and believe me you're missing out on a nice pagan folk album if you don't get it, so when it arrives, do NOT put it in the CD player straight away! Trust me on this! Be patient, do your normal things, let the day pass, maybe look into the booklet a bit, (impressive sleeve art and booklet by the way) but leave the CD until the dark of the evening. Then, and only then, when the kids are in bed, the pets fed and the dishes done, light a candle. Only one. You want the flickering light to play with the shadows on the wall. Now turn on your best stereo system, go sit in the middle of the room for maximum stereo effect (or use headphones), crank up the volume and finally press play... Zwielicht , or 'Twilight' in English, is probably the best intro to a Pagan Folk album I have ever heard. It pulls you right into the world of the Fae, of witches and dwarfs or the dark ancient woods of the Balkan. It is a stunning beginning to a CD that has lots more to give.
Their second album Mythos
already came out in April 2017, but now that Waldkauz will perform at Castlefest
for the very first time, we at CeltCast thought it was about time to finally introduce the band and their music to you.
The story of this band begins in 2010, with Gina and Lennart Klause working out the first musical ideas for what would become Waldkauz. They were soon joined by Gina's brother Peter on percussion. The band's official starting point is in 2013 with their first public performance, making 2018 the year of their 5th anniversary. Something they are going to celebrate with a special performance in October.
After meeting Gina, Lennart and Peter at Castlefest(!) in 2014, Nina and Niklas (old friends themselves) joined the band. The following year saw the birth of their first album Komm mit
. It earned them performances on the stages of MPS, das Mittelalterlich Phantasie Spectaculum
(Medieval Fantasy Spectacle) that tours Germany every year.
When you start reading the booklet of Mythos
, it soon becomes clear that it isn't just a name. The CD really is a collection of myths and… Read More
Anno Domini MMVI (In the year of the Lord 2006), Nynke Glazema, Tom Haage, Francesco Scafidi and Lies Sommer formed the Dutch band Datura . Their aim was to bring authentic medieval music to life, wearing the right clothing and each playing the instruments typical of the time:
Nynke : viella* and vocals
Tom : Spanish lute, flute, shawm* and vocals
Francesco : davul*, darbukka*, tambourine, saz* and vocals
Lies : harp, hurdy-gurdy, shawm and vocals
They studied the old manuscripts on the subject: songs collected by King Alfonso the 10th of Castilia y Leon (1221-1284); songs of devotion collected in the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat ; the red book of the monastery of Montserrat around the 14th century; and the most famous collection of them all, the Carmina Burana .
The fruit of their studies were recorded for the first time in 2012 with Fieke van den Hurk
, and collected on a magical disk-like mirror. A 'mirror' they called Alpha et Omega
. The songs on Alpha et Omega
were partly recorded in two churches and Fieke used the acoustics in there to her full advantage, therefore giving the listener a feel for the sounds of old medieval times. When minstrels would grace the courts and castles of medieval lords and kings. When their music would fill the big halls during elaborate dinners. Where the nobility would stride elegantly in couples to the sound of the music. They strode, because hopping and dancing was for the common people. That´s how Alpha et Omega
feels when you listen to it. Elegant, sophisticated and well crafted. A real view into the noble courts of the 12th to the 15th century.
In 2016 Datura visited Fieke in the studio again. From the first notes it's clear she gave Datura a different sound on Gratus et Optatus
. More direct. Where the first album was for the nobility, this 'magical mirror' is meant for the common people. It invites you to dance and stomp and sing along. We are not looking into the medieval world anymore. We are right in it! In the midst of it. The travelling musicians are right there in front of us, on the market square, playing their first song Bacche Bene Venies
. With Bacchus, the god of wine, standing next to us, giving us another glass. Bacche Bene Venies
is a cheerful uptempo drinking song, coming from the Carmina Burana
, that gets us listeners going straight away.… Read More
I love live albums. They capture that moment when the creative spirit of the musician meets the energy of the crowd. And when that connection is there, a band will feed off the energy to give their very best. It does not always happen, but every time when that connection ìs there it gives me goosebumps. I've been to several concerts where that electric energy was there between the band and us, the crowd and I remember them to this day. To catch something like that on a CD is just magic! When I heard that Harmony Glen was releasing a second live CD/DVD, knowing the cool positive energy they bring to the stage, and hearing that it was recorded at Elfia one of the bigger fantasy festivals in Holland, I was really looking forward to this CD. Did it live up to my expectations? For a big part it did, a very big part. But I'll come to that later.
Harmony Glen has become a household name at medieval- and fantasy festivals all over Europe and even North America. Dressed as a steampunk band their shows are [quote]: "An Irish folk extravaganza!"
[unquote] and as their biography is right on the nose, I will quote it a bit more: [quote]: "Harmony Glen is a Dutch feelgood-folk group founded in 2005. The music is based on Irish-Celtic folk but regularly sounds from all over the world get woven in. The goal of the band is to stand out not only through their music (which is a mix of traditional and original songs and tunes) but through their stage presence as well. Harmony Glen's shows have been described as 'a powerhouse of Folk' and people who attend can't seem to stand still as the energy is always on a maximal level."
Until now they recorded 6 studio and one live album called Live In Bremen
. So Live At Elfia
is their second live album and already their 8th CD overall. Quite an impressive discography. Most of the songs on Live At Elfia
are taken from their latest studio album Start Living Today
, so people already owning Live In Bremen
don't need to worry, there are just two songs that appear on both CDs.
The artwork of Live At Elfia
looks stunning. That alone makes buying this album worth all its money. Niels Duindam did a wonderful job on it. The… Read More