Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hadewych – Hadewych : Neo folk / Dark Ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09 (Image courtesy of Hadewych.)

Hadewych is a dutch collective working in the no man's land between neo folk, post industrial and dark ambient, with a heavy emphasis on rich ambient atmospheres. This release took me by surprise when it shifted quite suddenly from low fi synth atmosphere to industrial drums, heavily distorted guitar and slow brooding vocals, and then back to ambient, to folk, to massive rock and soundscapes, all without losing track of its original vantage point. And that is exactly what this release is about. The tracks are vowen together like parts of a whole, and the various arrangements and instruments work together towards a total experience. I actually couldn't imagine playing this album without playing all of it - and that is what good ambient music is about.

As for totality, the hand made cover is a story all to itself. The cd comes packaged between two thin slabs of wood, lined with red fabric - along with several picture inserts. The cover image depicts a person, presumably a band member, desperatly grasping soil and leaves in his fists, and true to this concept, the cd comes packaged with dried maple leaves! Impressive and consistent are keywords here. (Evidently the leaves are even Norwegian, and dried in incense. No details are random here.)

This also reflects further on the textures, tonality and instrumentation of the album. I don't know if it makes sense, but there is a certain feeling of mildew to the sound. That is to say something damp and slightly dissolved. While the instruments, samples and vocals are crisp and clear they are expertly filtered to convey an advanced state of decay, albeit a very soft and comforting decay.

It is hard to compare Hadewych to anything. Certain portions remind me of ambient music released by Origo sound back in the nineties, such as Neural Network and Dystopia – or even Biosphere. But then there are other portions that are more akin to tribal ritualistic music or industrial music with references to Coil or neo folk. There's even a touch of late period SWANS in the mix. And just when you think you have it all figured out, they hit you with something you didn't expect – but somehow still feels and sounds perfectly natural. I don't really know what to call it, but I do know I want more.

Finally I need to tell you that the album is pure contemporary mythology. Not necessarily in the sense that it deals with myths on some level, but in the sense that it contains a rootedness in nature and spirituality which it manages to convey marvelously. There's atleast twenty bands to a dozen who attempt this without managing to do what Hadewych does – seemingly with ease. The album makes you feel alive and connected in a very special way.

1 Broon
2 Ava
3 A forest for Riss
4 Prone
5 Bordun
6 A forest for Wyrd
7 Gentle Art of Incarceration
8 Dwaling, Star of Moth,
9 A forest for far
10 Gentle art of incarceration reprise, asrequiem,
11 Rike
12 A forest for eoh.

Holland, 2007, Self released.

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