Title: Buch der Balladen
Genre: Medieval / Fantasy / Folk / Pagan
Release Date: 20th November 2009
Label: Screaming Banshee/Alive
It's always nice to find a new release by a band as accomplished as FAUN. Founded in 2002 near Munich, they have consistently produced cutting edge work in the field of Pagan and Fantasy Folk and I found myself looking forward to reviewing this album and hoping it met my expectations. It did. The spoken ‘Prologue’ to this album really sets the feel for the majority of the CD. It's ethereal and suggests the mystery of legend and all things ancient, and it's nice that it's there as it serves for a great intro to the first track proper, which is actually the second official track on the album, ‘Sigurdlied’. ‘Sigurdlied’ offers us a beautiful medieval sound, with close haunting female harmonies and a really nice turn in musicianship for this well established group. You couldn't really wish for a better executed ballad, and it remains my favourite of the album.
The third track, ‘Herr Heinrich’, begins in a similar vein before introducing a good strong male vocal and a diversity of medieval instruments. It becomes a sort of duel between male and female voices and is a real pleasure to listen to. ‘Sen Polska’, for me, is a weak point of the album, not because it's badly performed, or in any way deficient, it just seems overly jolly for the feel of the rest of the album and being purely instrumental, you're just sitting there tapping your feet to what is a very happy little tune, which despite being really well played, is somewhat at odds somehow with the flavour of the rest. ‘Tanz über die Brüke’ soon brings things back onto a purely medieval plane and sits for me, far better with this album than its preceeding track. Diversity from the norm that did please me was ‘Brynhildur Tattur’, sung purely unaccompanied in a very raw and earthy style with just the sound of ocean waves crashing in the background. This straying from the norm really works, and I found myself liking this track immensely.
‘Nahtegal’ is another diverse track. With haunting pipes, echoing drums, it speaks of times before the medieval. This feels almost primordial in flavour, being somewhat primitive, somewhat eastern and altogether totally alluring as an instrumental track. ‘Jahrtausendalt’ returns us to the close female harmonies that have worked so well in previous tracks. The plaintiveness of this song, with its deep and embracing rhythm really gets inside you. It's truly a lovely track on what is a great album. ‘Der Wilde Wassermann’ is faster in feel but still very traditional, and it works well as it fits beautifully with the concept of this album. Gentle and engaging male vocals tell us the story of ‘Belle Dame sans Merci’ and being slightly different in being male led really finishes off the album nicely, with strong instrumentation from all concerned.
I like FAUN as a band, but this is a particularly good album, being something that you can listen to no matter what your mood. The sound is well managed, the instruments played impeccably across the board and the vocals are perfection.
03. Herr heinerich
04. Sen Polska
05. Tanz über die Brücke
06. Brynhildur Tattur
09. Der wilde Wassermann10. Belle Dame sans merci
Limited edition Bonus Track:
11. Brynhild Lied
Oliver s. Tyr - vocals, irish bouzouki, mandocello, nyckelharpa, celtic harp, guitar & saz
Fiona Rüggeberg - vocals, bagpipes, recorders, whistles, chalumeaux, hammered dulcimer, seljefloit, piano, fujara & rebap
Sandra Elflein - vocals, violin, hurdy-gurdy, recorders
Rüdiger Maul - frame drum, darabukka, riq, duf, ganjira, dombak & many more percussion instruments
Niel Mitra - beats, synthesizers, samples and sound scapes
http://www.faune.de/ / http://www.myspace.com/paganfolk
Total: 9 / 10