March 2012 Short Reviews (Agitated Radio Pilot, The Owl Service, Sturmpercht / Rauhnacht)

In the Event of My Dis­ap­pear­ance

Agit­ated Radio Pilot - In the Event of My Dis­ap­pear­ance [dis­cogs]

Along­side our own double release, In the Event of My Dis­ap­pear­ance, released on Chin­a’s Mid­night Pro­duc­tions, is one of the final ARP releases. And a fine one it is! Dave Colo­han focuses mostly on piano-driven songs here, which is a new route com­pared to earlier albums. The songs are sparse, calm, and fea­ture subtle addi­tions of other instru­ments and vocals by guest artists like Michael Tan­ner and Yas­min Chaudhry.

All of the tracks breathe that calm beauty that char­ac­ter­ises much of Colo­han’s work, but “Breath of Bells” must be the abso­lute standout, a grip­ping song with intense chorus cli­maxes on ebowed gui­tar. Some of the tracks stretch out into sound­scapes, and the 20+ minute ambi­ent EP The Lunar Arcane is added as a lovely bonus track on this release. An essen­tial release for ARP fans, and as always, worth a try for every­one with an ear for singer/songwriter and ambi­ent drone cros­sov­ers.

The Pat­tern Beneath the Plow Parts 1&2

The Owl Ser­vice - The Pat­tern Beneath the Plow Parts 1 & 2 [dis­cogs]

This double album col­lects two earlier Owl Ser­vice releases (The Burn Comes Down and The View from a Hill), as well as a selec­tion of bonus tracks, good for nigh on two hours of tra­di­tional and revival-inspired Brit­ish folk. The first disc focuses on some clas­sic Robert Burns poems and songs, and I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of “When a Man’s in Love”, sung by guest vocal­ist and labelmate Roshi Nasehi. Of the plen­ti­ful bonus tracks on disc 1, the Gently Johnny-esque “Wake the Vaul­ted Echo” is rather nice (as is the Tigon remix on John Bar­ley­corn Reborn). The longer “By the Set­ting of the Sun” is quite enjoy­able as well, with a good dol­lop of Pink Floyd thrown in there. On the second disc, I was par­tic­u­larly drawn to “Wil­lie O’Wins­bury”, another delight­ful mix of tra­di­tional and later revival sounds (sitar!). Another good record­ing is “Within Sound”, always a fas­cin­at­ing few verses. End­ing the album with a superb ver­sion of Gwy­dion Pendder­wen’s “Spring Strath­spey” is a good move as well.

Though I’m not too fond of all the vocal­ists in The Owl Ser­vice - that’s a mat­ter of per­sonal slant - and although the band’s music could bear a bit more exper­i­mental influ­ences, they are eas­ily one of the most inter­est­ing pro­jects in mod­ern Brit­ish folk music. This double album sum­mar­ises well what they’re cap­able of, and really the only reason not to check it out is if you already have the sep­ar­ate releases that con­sti­tute it.

Zur Ew’­gen Ruh

Stur­m­per­cht / Rauh­nacht - Zur Ew’­gen Ruh [dis­cogs]

This EP was released late 2011 on Per­cht Records, a mem­ber of the Steink­lang fam­ily. These two aus­trian folk (inspired) artists teamed up for a two track work com­bin­ing neo­folk and black metal, with that typ­ical atmo­sphere of dark nature mys­ti­cism that has been so inspir­ing since the early nineties.

The first track has the usual acous­tic neo­folk basis, but with a lot of addi­tional instru­ments, such as bells, jew’s harp, flute, accor­dion, and wind sounds. The vocals altern­ate between whis­pers and har­monic chants, quite in the line of Ger­man bands like Orplid and Empyrium. The mys­ter­i­ous atmo­sphere is main­tained into the second song, where the acous­tic ele­ments blend with the metal. This mix of ele­ments works quite well, and is sim­ilar to the style of bands like Windir or Negură Bun­get, to name just two.

Both songs feel like integ­ral parts of a whole, and this short EP is a very good and cleanly pro­duced styl­istic exer­cise, if not really ground­break­ing. Cer­tainly recom­men­ded for those who don’t mind mix­ing their metal and folk some­what!