15th March 2007
The name of the German band FAUN is the same word in the English tongue and describes a being from the Greek/Latin mythology, associated with Pan/Faunus, the god of shepherds and flocks. This character is often displayed as a nature or forest spirit, and according to the band members, they have chosen this name as a symbol for their close affinity to nature. For the same reason, Oliver Pade, founding member of the group, took on the pseudonym 'Sa Tyr'; these creatures were the Pan's companions in the myths.
This Thursday evening at the outset of spring the bandsmen from Gräfelfing (close to Munich, Germany) were to play in the Röhre Stuttgart, and this promised a few hours removed from reality to ancient times and fantastic fairytale worlds, so I was sure to be there. The Röhre was well-filled; mainly people from mid-twenties to forties had made their way to the concert. For sure, a band like FAUN is always better off on a medieval market or a castle festival, but the small club they played in this evening was not that bad as well. There was no support band, and after about an hour waiting time following the admission, the congenial female vocalists Fiona Rüggeberg (also plays various instruments like flutes or bagpipes) and Lisa Pawelke (also plays the hurdy gurdy) entered the stage together with the rest of the band.
The German band FAUN has been founded in 1999 by Oliver Pade, Birgit Muggenthaler (SCHANDMAUL) and Werner Schwab, but as time passed, it experienced some line-up changes. The present constellation of the group has been existing since 2001, and today Oliver Pade (vocals, different instruments like harp or lute) is the only founding member remaining in the band. Apart from the two female vocalists already mentioned, FAUN also features Rüdiger Maul on percussions and Niel Mitra doing the samples/synths. Their first output, ‘Zaubersprüche’, appeared in 2002 via the Curzweyhl label, which releases their albums to the present day. It features calm ballads from the Late Middle Ages and Romanticism, and is completely acoustic and recorded without the use of modern instruments. This year, their fourth regular album reached their fans, entitled ‘Totem’; it contains some more electronic elements and treats the topic of death and what comes after it. http://www.faune.de/
FAUN play Pagan-Folk, as the band members themselves have tried to describe their music, which hardly seemed to fit some category already existing. In their early days, they used ancient instruments exclusively and very much concentrated on the singing, but latterly they mix up the traditional sounds with some electronic elements - from an ancient computer, as Sa Tyr assured his smiling audience. The band's repertoire reaches from melancholic, serene ballads to exciting, effusive danceable tunes. The typical and well-known instruments are used, like bagpipes, shawms and different percussion instruments, but also the guitar or the harp. Their compositions and lyrics are self-written in parts, but they are also using historic songs from various regions and eras; accordingly their lyrics come in different tongues like Middle High German, Latin, Old Norse, Hungarian or Ladino.
As very impressive I experienced the beautiful voices of both Fiona and Lisa, which, performed in two voices, sometimes dreamy and lost in reverie, sometimes full of energy, carried the listener away to worlds and places long forgotten. Rather special was also the performance Rüdiger offered, who played the various percussion instruments. The setlist was a good section through the band's work up to now, and for sure songs from the new album ‘Totem’, which they are promoting on this tour, like the wonderful and at the same time extraordinary special ‘Zwei Falken’, weren't missing.
As the experienced FAUN concert visitor already expected, the intro was followed by an extensive speech by Sa Tyr, who always told his little stories and anecdotes between the songs, sometimes amusing, sometimes simply strange. The stage was all the time plunged into beautiful light of different colours, which additionally made up for the right mood. Fiona and Lisa stood in front of the audience behind their microphones in nice white dresses, and again and again they danced around, Fiona with her bagpipe, and Lisa with a hurdy gurdy. A little bit breaking ranks, though not concerning his apparition, was Niel behind his laptop in the background of the stage, who delivered the pushing, but still very convenient, beat.
It was clearly obvious, that FAUN were having real fun on stage, and that they are playing their music with a lot of passion - a fact that was honoured by the audience, who were dancing and singing along and rewarding the group's efforts with extensive cheering and applause. When the musicians announced the oncoming end of their set, the visitors' regret was clearly perceptible, and so FAUN came back for two extras, amongst them the fragile ‘Der stille Grund’, sung by the two female vocalists without any instrumental attendance. A very felicitous performance - can't wait to see them next time!
01. Intro Gaia
03. Da Que Deus
05. 2 Falken
07. Cuncti Simus
09. Wind & Geige
15. Der stille Grund