Review: The Joy of Nature - The Empty Circle Part II - Rastos De Sangue E Fragmentos Da Tradição (2009)


artist: The Joy of Nature
release: The Empty Circle Part II - Ras­tos De Sangue E Frag­men­tos Da Tradição
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Ahn­stern
dur­a­tion: 64:58

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Ras­tos De Sangue E Frag­men­tos Da Tradição is the second part of the series of The Empty Circle, and also the second full length by The Joy of Nature on Ahn­stern. While remain­ing faith­ful to the project’s unique Medi­ter­ranean neo­folk sound, this par­tic­u­lar album bene­fits from an emphasis on song, as well as the addi­tion of guest musi­cians who bring touches of their own style to the music.

While the rich, dreamy sound of The Joy of Nature’s pre­vi­ous releases remains in place, mas­ter­fully mix­ing vari­ous string instru­ments, per­cus­sion, as well as horns, field record­ings, and other sources, this album has a fresh sound to it, leav­ing more room for vocals and song struc­tures to emerge, and less emphasis on almost soundscape-like com­pos­i­tions. A per­fect example, as well as one of the best tracks on the album is “Cavalos Cor­rem Nas Min­has Veias”, a rous­ing uptempo track with a mar­tial rhythm back­ing and a gen­er­ally uplift­ing and battle-ready sound to it. Add to it chariot sounds, bag­pipes, whistles and what­not, and you’ve got an excel­lent track that wouldn’t be out of place with a pro­ject like San­gre Caval­lum. No sur­prise per­haps that Bruno Ardo is one of the guest musi­cians on this track.

There is slightly more room for more expans­ive tracks on the second half of the album, where exper­i­mental com­pos­i­tions carve out a space for them­selves. We are treated to a show­case of pro­ject mas­ter­mind Luís Couto’s broad range of musical and vocal styles, the lat­ter of which still aren’t per­fect every­where, but this detracts little from the high level of gen­eral qual­ity of the music on this album. Par­tic­u­lar men­tion deserves to go to tracks like “Som­bras Dos Nos­sos Ances­trais” [Por­tuguese for Shad­ows of Our Ancet­ors, if gen­eral lin­guistic know­ledge doesn’t fail me], with its diverse ritual char­ac­ter, and “A Sen­hora Do Almortão E A Cri­ança Esventrada”, equally flow­ing and ritual, and sound­ing like a warmer south­ern European ver­sion of Tenhi, if you can ima­gine such a thing.

Coupled with themes of nature, spir­itu­al­ity and tra­di­tion, the music on this album is highly con­vin­cing in its com­bin­a­tion of com­pact songs and exten­ded exper­i­mental com­pos­i­tions. In many respects, the most mature The Joy of Nature album to date, and one that is cer­tain to please lov­ers of Luís’ earlier work, as well as lov­ers of exper­i­mental folk music in gen­eral.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Invocação Ao Arcanjo Miguel (1:05)
2. Tanchão (3:14)
3. Terra De Lava E De Mar (4:06)
4. Ó Men­ino Ó (2:55)
5. Nas Veias Do Men­ino (2:15)
6. Cavalos Cor­rem Nas Min­has Veias (4:03)
7. Sete Cid­ades (5:23)
8. Sen­hora Da Manhã Vitori­osa (3:48)
9. Por Tua Saudade (5:52)
10. Som­bras Dos Nos­sos Ances­trais (6:29)
11. A Sen­hora Do Almortão E A Cri­ança Esventrada (8:49)
12. Do Outro Lado Da Montanha (8:28)
13. O Cortejo Sin­is­tro Das Som­bras (5:39)
14. Para Lá Das Som­bras (2:52)

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