Friday, June 6, 2014

October falls - Kaarna

Genre : Instrumental neofolk
Release : June 20th 2014 on Debemur Morti Productions.

You probably read about October falls on my blog already, and if you did, you might have come across straight neofolk releases such as Sarastus, between a couple folk black metal ones such as A collapse of faith or The womb of primordial nature. I got the honor to review October falls' new release before June 20th, with a pretty physical digipack coming along. Speaking about it, the artwork is much prettier than seen here, since there's an embossed neofolk-only (square one) band logo on its cover, which can't be seen on the scan. For those who got the digipack from A collapse of faith already, it's the same idea here. That whole black & white box is pretty beautiful by the way, even though there's not a single lyric in its booklet of course : just cover arts of the old releases. Yeah, some may be sad to learn this, but there aren't any new tracks in there : Kaarna gathers every acoustic track Mikko Lehto has ever recorded, and that's it. Nothing worthless though : those works are coherent and fit together amazingly well, and giving them a whole new life into a single physical release make them shine much more than they ever did.

Compilation? Yeah, every neofolk track October falls ever did is inside the box, which makes it quite a long journey over two CDs. If you're wondering about the tracklist, you've got it just up there (except that 'Marrasmaa' is in the middle of 'Marras' track). You can also stream it as a whole right here, of course. But as you may be more familiar with the black metal releases Mikko Lehto did, here's what you can expect here : straight minimalistic neofolk mostly consisting in acoustic guitars, some pianos, a couple quiet flutes in the background, almost no drums (a couple on 'Marras' and that's it) nor vocals (quick vocalized interludes between ex-Marras tracks), but lots of ambient noises. Ambient noises which are definitely the usual neofolk ones : wind and water flowing, birds singing... and so on. If that's pretty much it technically, Kaarna is all about atmosphere, and clocking for more than 90 minutes, it's long enough to place it easily and perfectly. Of course, you may think it's too long, but that's not something you carefully listen to in my opinion, it's more about placing yourself in a precise mood for an evening. It should flow like water does all along 'Sarastus' and that's probably how it's meant to exist. Also, this release is quite different from other long straight neofolk releases (Fearthainne comes to mind), probably because it's strictly European neofolk, more melodic and less ritualistic than those inspired from the cascadian movement. October falls' has a different atmosphere, still melancholic, but somehow warmer. Well, for those who know its folk black metal side, Kaarna surely reminds of the acoustic parts heard in A collapse of faith or The womb of primordial nature. Except that no raging blastbeats or huge riff will come. Don't be sad : the journey is still worth it, but just meant for a different mood.

With its three very short tracks and its three long ones (made from albums mixed into single tracks), Kaarna has quite an unusual structure. But in the end, it would make the same sense if it was a single huge track. While giving it such a physical release, Mikko surely gave it much more sense than separate digital tracks grabbed here and there on Bandcamp and played separately. As such, Kaarna is something you should own if you're into raw neofolk, or just if you want your October falls' discography to be complete. That would be more than a good idea, because this one definitely makes sense between the folk black metal albums the band is most known for.

Personal highlights : Viima, Sarastus.
Links : Facebook, Bandcamp (neofolk only).

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