Review: Hadewych (2007)


artist: Hadewych
release: Hadewych
format: CDr
year of release: 2007
label: Tuch­tunie / Self-released
dur­a­tion: 48:55

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com.

Hadewych is a Dutch pro­ject by one Peter Nij­land, and it’s been around for a couple of years, releas­ing some demo mater­ial in 2003. This promo release, dat­ing from 2007 and lim­ited to 50 cop­ies, is the project’s most recent release, but don’t let the term promo fool you; this is a very fine hand­made album in an edi­tion that would put many ‘proper’ under­ground CDr albums to shame, both in terms of present­a­tion and music.

Let me start by defin­ing this album’s style broadly as post-industrial. Even that is stretch­ing it a tiny bit, as Hadewych seems to draw upon many influ­ences. Fore­most is a dark, flow­ing ambi­ent atmo­sphere, based both on acous­tic instru­ments and won­der­fully pro­duced synths. This is hardly only a calm album though, as through­out there appear strong per­cuss­ive and rhythmic ele­ments, surges in intens­ity, some dis­tor­ted gui­tars here and there… Suf­fice to say that trans­itions from soft to wild and strong are mas­ter­fully handled here. Vocals are sparse, and mostly obscure: soft whis­pers or darker mur­mur­ings.

The atmo­sphere is not that easy to define either, though for me per­son­ally, the album moves through ter­rit­ory where the organic and nat­ural is com­bined with the dark­ness and light lurk­ing in our own minds. The track titles seem to con­firm this image, with a recur­ring forest theme, and a lin­guist­ic­ally syn­cretic mix of vari­ous Ger­manic ele­ments. Most of it is simply Dutch or Eng­lish, but other ele­ments, like the band name, come from older peri­ods of the Ger­manic lan­guages. Without suc­cumb­ing to the tempta­tion of expli­cit ref­er­ences to con­crete peri­ods of his­tory, Hadewych still man­ages to take this his­tory in some­how, subtly draw­ing upon ener­gies from the North-West European past, pagan and non-pagan.

A brief word about the present­a­tion, then. Even though this is ‘just’ a promo (and priced like one!), it is pack­aged mar­vel­lously. The pro-printed CDr is housed in a gate­fold made of ply­wood and red cloth, with 4 prin­ted cards show­ing the release info and three pho­to­graphs. To top it off, the gate­fold was pack­aged in dried leaves. This is excel­lent stuff, and only in the best corners of the under­ground can you find such atten­tion paid to a release without hav­ing to pay a for­tune.

I’m rarely this enthu­si­astic about a Dutch pro­ject, which I still con­sider a rel­at­ively poor coun­try in our area of music. But thank­fully there are excep­tions like Hadewych, which is eas­ily one of the most prom­ising artists in the Dutch dark music scene today. This self-tiled album deftly com­bines ambi­ent, neo­folk, indus­trial, and other influ­ences into an ori­ginal whole, and one that is per­formed and pro­duced on a high level as well. It wouldn’t be out of place on a label like Cold Spring or Cold Meat Industry, and this is only the promo. Get this while you still can!

Reviewed by O.S.

Trackllist:

1. Broos (1:13)
2. Ava (3:52)
3. A Forest For Riss (2:00)
4. Prone (5:37)
5. Bordun (5:37)
6. A Forest For Wyrd (7:22)
7. Gentle Art Of Incin­er­a­tion (6:41)
8. Dwal­ing / Star Of Moth (3:58)
9. A Forest For Far (2:15)
10. Gentle Art Of Incin­er­a­tion Reprise / Asrequiem (4:05)
11. Rike (2:01)
12. A Forest For Eoh (4:14)

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