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Main » 2007 » June » 13 » Werkraum - 2004 - Unsere Feuer Brennen
Werkraum - 2004 - Unsere Feuer Brennen

'Unsere  Feuer Brennen', which translates from the German as 'Our Fires Burning', is one  of the most interesting releases that has come my way in a long time. Strikingly  packaged in gold upon white and aided by both Jason Thompkins (Harvest Rain) and  Nick Nedzynski (Lady Morphia), the eleven tracks on this CD run to just over 50  minutes in length.

The first of them, 'Nocturne', opens with the  words 'Welcome, sweet death', taken from J. Dowland's 'A Pilgrime's Solace' from  1612 and possibly even inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Komm Susser Tod'.  Regardless, it's most certainly infused with the same Classical spirit and even  a wry sense of optimism. To a slight extent these poetic utterances remind me of  Elijah's Mantle, but there is a darker edge to them and the words frolic  menacingly with the pounding drums in the background. The second track, 'Die  letzte Jagd' (The Last Hunt), is a lively mixture of acoustic guitar, bass drum  and Axel Frank's stunning German vocals. An infectious chorus helps to convey  the thrill of the chase and the whole thing is performed with real confidence  and far more enthusiastically than most of the neo-folk dirges I'm used to  hearing these days.

'Chanson de la plus haute tour' (Song of the  Highest Tower) is based on Arthur Rimbaud's 1872 poem of the same name and, once  again, deals with the demise of youth and even life itself. The beautiful  vocals, sung here by Antje Hoppenrath, sweep from ear to ear in an arpeggio  ballad that wouldn't be out of place on a Simon & Garfunkel album. Both  melodic and atmospheric at the same time, this is European folk at it's very  best. 'Einsamernie' (Never Lonely) interrupts this vision of late-60s harmony  with muffled German vocals and explosions, a low organ swinging back and forth  like a mesmeric pendulum across the tree-shattered landscape of No-Man's Land.  It's rather like Ostara in one of their more Ambient moments, but perhaps tinged  with the stark foreboding of Blood Axis on 'The Gospel of Inhumanity'.  Meanwhile, 'Legion' vomits words out backwards like a sick dwarf being hassled  by an unintelligible choir at a David Lynch garden party. It's true! Stuttering  drums give way to acoustic jangling, measured vocals and crazy King  Hammond-style synths that weave their way through the song like a thin brown  line in an animated Bisto advert.

A tolling bell marks the onset of 'Steh auf,  Nordwind!' (Rise Up, North Wind!) and one of the album's catchier numbers. The  impeccable vocals remind me of Belborn's Holger F, but in between the verses the  rich musical undercurrent is similar to early-90s Death In June. 'Dignitas Dei'  (God's Honour) sees the return of those whirling space-age synths, joined here  by dislocated chanting and the distinct feeling that you're listening to  Hawkwind perform a Black Mass in Canterbury Cathedral. As a closet [Not  anymore. - ML.] fan of Psychedelia, I'm glad to say that this represents a  fantastic break with the increasingly dull neo-folk tradition and so perhaps  it's time to dust off those liquid wheels and grab yourself a bag of  hallucinogenic fungi.

Where was I? Oh yes, the review. 'Ewigland'  (Eternal Country) heralds the participation of Jason Thompkins of Harvest Rain  and a lilting guitar that makes this track sound like a lament to a distant  homeland. All accompanied by sentimental lyrics, a rattling snare, the light  blare of passing aircraft and other portentous contributions. With its uplifting  chords, synthetic horns and bass guitar, 'Heilige Krieg' (Holy War) is slightly  similar to 'Steh auf, Nordwind!', but the vocals are much more powerful and  possess an unusual and rhythmic quality. The sampled American drawl [what  "drawl", exactly?! - ML], shimmering tambourine and clip-clop percussion  makes this a cataclysmic statement on the perils of our age.

The vocals on 'Hohezeit' (High Time) are  performed by Antje Hoppenrath in a late-medieval style, her voice rising and  falling amid hushed echoes and layers of stridulating Morricone-style effects.  Quite enchanting. The final track, 'Civitas Dei' (City of God), is a slow march  across an Augustinian plain of urgent voices, hypnotic cantata and the  irresistible cry of a whooping electronic maelstrom. Like a heretical theocracy  presiding over an inquisition of clinical radiologists, each determined to get  their knobs out and have their own say.

To conclude, then, Werkraum's first album is  truly remarkable and has exceeded all expectations as far as I'm concerned. It's  good to see Justin Mitchell's label continuously branching out into unexplored  territory, too. The lad certainly has an eye for innovative and exciting  material. For more information about Werkraum go to:

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Category: Prog/Classic rock/Blues | Views: 1890 | Added by: innocent76 | Rating: 0.0/0 |

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