(Dancing Ferret, 2005)

Faun draws its music from ancient worlds, from woodland frolics to courtly dances, from wild revels to opera. This German band relies on a broad mix of old and new instruments and presents itself like a force of nature expressed in harmony.

The first track, "Satyros," takes its text from Carmina Burana, but the music is something wilder. It begins with a pair of female voices, like a peasant song as much a chant as a melody, and then the lush orchestration and percussive background sweeps in to take it to an entirely new level. The bells are a grace note that multiply the atmosphere by a factor of 12.

"Da Que Deus" stems from a joyful Galician text praising Mary. "Tagelied" is a Faun original based on a medieval form. "Rhiannon," an original instrumental piece named for the Welsh horse goddess, bold, dominant and free, with a melody and rhythm that combine to pound across the plains. "Sirena" arises from a Sephardic wedding song with its lure in the sea. "Konigin" is a lovely original song that finds beauty in simplicity, while "Iyansa" calls on the Afro-Brasilian goddess of wind and builds into a frenzy. "Loibere Risen" is a centuries-old song that counters misery with love. "Rosmarin," another original song, seeks inspiration from the gypsies of Spain, while "Das Tor," written with a friend of the band, is reflective and melancholic.

The band evokes a wide range of moods through its music. It makes you think and feel as you listen, even when you don't understand the multicultural words being sung. The music excites and impresses.

Faun is Oliver Sa Tyr on vocals, bouzouki, nyckelharpa, Celtic harp and Jews harp; Lisa Pawelke on vocals and hurdy-gurdy; Fiona Ruggeberg on vocals, recorders, whistles, bagpipes and seljefloit (Scandinavian harmonic flute); Rudiger Maul on a host of percussion instruments, many of which I've never heard of before; and Niel Mitra on a variety of samples and electronics.

Imagine Dead Can Dance with more of a eurocentric focus, and you've got a pretty good idea what Faun can do -- not that the band is confined to one continent with its sound. The music on Renaissance is innovative and passionate, a refined outlook slashed with a feral attitude. It is both soothing and stirring. It is beautiful music.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

19 May 2007

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