Chamber genres of the dark scene have always attracted me more than other genres, primarily because the spirit of classical piano music has been close to me since childhood. That is why I prefer such performances more than dance electronic music on the large festivals. There were a lot of interesting releases in Chamber genres in 2018, however, 2018 became so multifaceted and diverse that some of the Chamber releases could fit very well into other top lists. Certain trends in these genres in recent years have not been traced. But this year it is quite probable that such a trend has appeared...
Covered genres: Ethereal, Neo-Classics, Neofolk, Dark Folk, Dark Country, Medieval Neofolk
10. Death in June – ‘Essence!’ (Dark Folk | UK, New English Recordings)
DEATH IN JUNE began its activities in the Postpunk genre in 1980. The music of the British artist originally was influences by Folk elements, but in the beginning they were only a tool, but not a basis. When Douglas Pierce was left alone in the project, DEATH IN JUNE became one of the icons of the new genre called Dark Folk. The project has a lot of albums, both conceptual and ideological as well as experimental. The British performed at various format and non-format festivals in format and non-format countries, collaborated with other musicians and participated in various compilations. Douglas’ last solo full-length studio album was released in 2010 and when the last DEATH IN JUNE album without any musical experiments in a classical sound was released, everyone had already forgotten. The new work turned out exactly as everyone knows DEATH IN JUNE, as it was in the best years and sounds like it sounded on its best albums. I would not say that this work will be a discovery and a masterpiece of innovation, but after so many experiments it is great to hear the release of a classic, interesting and diverse work. The new album of DEATH IN JUNE hit the top 10 not because of its old works, but precisely because on the scene of the Dark Folk in 2018 ‘Essence!’ turned out very interesting and attractive.
09. Trobar De Morte – ‘Witchcraft’ (Neofolk, Medieval, Neo-Classics | Spain, Self-Released)
The Spanish band TROBAR DE MORTE was formed in 1999 by Mireia Garcia and the first album was released only five years later. Now there are already six full-length albums in the project’s discography and the seventh one was released in 2018. The project has already established itself on the scene of Neoclassic and Medieval Folk music as one of the most interesting and professional. No wonder they were set to perform at one of the WGT festivals on the ruins of the Leipzig church. Their music has always sounded in the medieval fantasy conception with a neoclassical slant. The new work is made in the best traditions of the Spaniards with great female vocals, atmospheric melodies and a unique atmosphere. 13 new songs take the listener to the world of wonders, where live fairies and wizards, demons and monsters, witches and sorcerers. Beautiful work of great musicians! Trobar De Morte was added from album to album and ‘Witchcraft’ absorbed all the best qualities.
08. Jennifer Thomas – ‘The Fire Within’ (Neo-Classics | USA, Tickled Ivory Music)
American composer JENNIFER THOMAS began playing the piano and violin when she was five years old and her mother was her teacher, with whom she released her first album in 2009. The girl’s solo work was released only in 2012 and the second solo album was released in 2018. Jennifer has a lot of performances in philharmonic and conservatories, good reviews from professional musicians and a degree in performing arts and piano. A new album by an American sparkles with the emotional performance of her own compositions on her profile musical instruments: piano and violin. These are very powerful and monumental neoclassical sketches with a multi-layered structure. The album is called ‘The Fire Within’ and this name is completely corresponds to the content. The fire flares up in each composition, becoming a pervasive flame, then hiding in the twilight flicks with romantic moods and flares up again. Beautiful emotional work of the American composer!
07. Irfan – ‘Roots’ (Ethereal, Neofolk | Bulgaria, Self-Released)
The shortest full-length album in the list of the tops 2018 belongs to the Bulgarian project IRFAN. In fact, the album is closer to the EP in duration, but the musicians themselves decided that this is a holistic full-length work. The Bulgarian project IRFAN was formed at the beginning of the 2000s and immediately became noticeable on the scene of the ethereal and Neofolk by its aerial Balkan Folk music with oriental motifs and the clear and distinct influence of DEAD CAN DANCE. The album ‘Roots’ is already the fourth in the discography of the project. Their previous albums were released in the French label of Neo-Classics, ethereal and Neofolk called Prikosnovenie, which lately disappeared from the radar, so the new work was published on their own as self-release. The album consists of six new compositions and is made in the classic sound of the Bulgarians maybe with more use of oriental opuses. Here you can clearly see the influence of eminent Australian colleagues, Balkan melodies, and the Bulgarian language, which gives even more charm to the music making IRFAN a unique phenomenon on this scene. You can, of course, say that such a short album is not enough, but it is better to have few masterpieces than a lot of regular compositions.
06. Day Before Us – ‘Adorned Path of Stillness’ (Neo-Classics, Dark Ambient, Ethereal | France, GH Records)
French composer Philippe Blache created the DAY BEFORE US project in 2011 and at the dawn of his musical activity played more Ambient music with rare moves to Ethereal and Neo-Classics. During his career the Frenchman collaborated with many musicians. In 2015 Philippe invited the former singer of the Russian Heavy Metal band STONEHENGE Natalia Romashina to be part of Day Before Us. Since then the singer, who has also vocal experience in the choir, has become part of the project. So the music has become more Ethereal-oriented. The new album is already the third with Natalia and in fact has absorbed both the Dark Ambient of the early works and the Ethereal with beautiful female vocals in Russian, French and English and mysterious industrial elements. A very interesting and varied work that could easily get into the top of industrial for 2018!
05. Zwyntar – ‘Мертві Голоси’ (Dark Country | Ukraine, Self-Released)
The Ukrainian project ZWYNTAR appeared in 2014 and from the first compositions available on the internet became understood, that this would be a new phenomenon not only in the post-Soviet countries, but also in general on the Alt-Country and Neofolk scene. The project was stuck for a long time, but finally an EP of 2016 was followed by a debut full-length album in 2018. Recently, the Dark Country genre is becoming more and more popular not only among the audience of Folk and Indie listeners, but also among the dark scene fans. ZWYNTAR created a unique sound consisting of Dark Country with Ukrainian lyrics, a mixture of American and Ukrainian colouring and cemetery themes. It turned out some kind of a Batcave version of Alt-Country. And it’s great. Each composition sounds powerful and interesting and the atmosphere is recognizable and unique. One of the best debuts of the dark scene!
04. Hekate – ‘Totentanz’ (Dark Folk | Germany, Prophecy)
The old respected Dark Folk project HEKATE released his latest album in an already seemingly so distant year of 2011, so HEKATE has all been successfully forgotten but Dark Folk and Dark Scene music audience. But the project is still alive, creates music and as it turned out releases albums. New work of famous Germans is made in the classic Dark Folk style with a touch of Dark Romance. The English lyrics alternate with the German and the melancholic acoustic compositions are replaced by more marching and rhythmic. Innovation lovers will not find something new on the album, but what was expected from HEKATE and from the giants of the Dark Folk as a whole is perfectly done and kicking.
03. Anna Von Hausswolff – ‘Dead Magic’ (Ethereal, Dream Pop, Trip-Hop, Neo-Classics | Sweden, City Slang)
Swedish singer ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF began her musical career in the second half of the 2000s. The first album was released in 2010. ‘Dead Magic’ is the fourth work of the Swede. Anna’s Avant-Garde music consists of a rattling mix of the neoclassical Avant-Garde, Dream Pop, Neofolk, Ethereal and Trip-Hop. In the past it seemed to me that such a combination of genres would be kind of a salad made of everything possible from the fridge, but in modern music simple salad already surprises no one. Such Avant-Garde creativity is now coming into fashion and performers like Anna make a breakthrough after a breakthrough and popularize such a so-called author’s experiment sound creating almost an isolated scene of such a sound. Anna made a very emotionally powerful album, in which she combined different sounds, different incarnations of herself, different worlds, different realities, different magic. Dead magic. Strong deep work!
02. Paya Lehane – ‘Oppidamus’ (Neofolk, Ethereal, Electronic | UK, Self-Released)
The debut album of the British composer and singer Pavlína Bastlová is known for her work in another folk project called PERKELT. The solo album of PAYA LEHANE was released on her own on various platforms on the internet in 2018. PERKELT essentially plays standard Celtic Folk with Pagan and Medieval elements. But Pavlína’s solo album turned out to be much more diverse and non-standard, although it begins with a calm Celtic Folk song without any frills, although it is perfectly performed with great female vocals. Classical Medieval compositions are diluted with Electro Folk opuses and Pavlína’s vocals in her native Czech language. Electronic compositions partly remind something like Czech version of QNTAL, but the atmospheric Folk songs in Czech are completely unique, which cannot be compared with other artists. Somewhere there is something from ESTAMPIE, in some places SHIREEN notes are heard, some compositions have something in common with TROBAR DE MORTE, but Czech lyrics lead this creation away from comparisons. Paya Lehane’s beautifully varied work is one of the most interesting folk albums in 2018. I hope that the next solo work will not be worse.
01. Dame Silú de Mordomoire – ‘Ordeals’ (Ethereal, Dungeon Synth, Neo-Classics | France, Self-Released)
At first glance the inconspicuous free download release with a typical Dungeon Synth design cover art did not portend a masterpiece. A French girl from Burgundy clearly inspired by the vocals of LISA GERRARD and the work of Metal artists who are fond of Ambient and Medieval music, decided to create her own project and record an album. And it turned out to be a very powerful debut with a unique atmosphere and a combination of genres that no one used together before. The ritual dark sides of the Dungeon Synth with Ethereal and Neo-Classics motifs made the French debut so popular that the free download option ended (due to the Bandcamp policy). It is possible that the album was later reissued even on physical media. This work can serve as a wave of similar releases in future, which combines the golden period of DEAD CAN DANCE and the classic Dungeon Synth. But for now... Dawn. The raven flies over the last night’s blood-filled battlefield. The stream of water is no longer painted red. Somewhere a beautiful princess mourns her dead knight. And on the other side of the Earth there is another battle between the other knights and the other princess looks at the moon and hopes that her beloved knight will come back alive. But that’s another story...
Other honourable mentions: BITTER PILL, INDARRA, PALODINE, BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL, DELORAINE, KREIVISKAI, SOL INVICTUS, KINGS & BEGGARS, ROMA AMOR
Special: Top 10 2018 - Chamber Music album of the year
- Written by: Count_Death
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