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Reviews
Luftwaffe / Awen - Bloodline / Helith's Hill
Friday, August 15 2008 @ 01:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: adam.torruella

Luftwaffe / Awen - Bloodline / Helith\'s Hill

Artist: Split Album / Collaboration

Title: Luftwaffe / Awen - Bloodline / Helith's Hill

Label: Luftawen United States

Genre: Dark Folk / Neofolk

01 Luftwaffe - Bloodline
02 Awen - Helith's Hill

This anticipated split 7" featuring Luftwaffe (Chicago, Ill.) and Awen (Dallas, Tx.) is a very exciting release those who of us have been awaiting new material from both of the artists. The record was released by Luftawen (a label created for this collaboration) in commemorate of their joint show in New York City on June 20th, 2008.

The album which is very handsomely packaged includes an insert printed on clear plastic with an attached lyric sheet featuring Erin Powell’s artwork on the reverse side. The record itself is pressed in two colors, “flesh pink and penitents purple”, adding an interesting dimension to the production value of the release.

Luftwaffe’s A-side track “Bloodline” features b9 InViD and j1 StatiK with guest artists Erin Powell (samples, bodhran, bones) Sabrina Steiner (Double Bass) and Katrin X (Singing Bowl, Percussion). The combination of performers creates a very mature sound for Luftwaffe, yet following well instep with their reoccurring trend towards the aesthetic of bleak nihilism.

Coming from their 2006 release Event Nihility the listener will instantly notice a less aggressive and less industrial (yet still powerful) approach to the telling of their disparaging story. Even with this less aggressive thrust, Luftwaffe has created a very effective release blending perfectly together classical neofolk styling with martial undertones. They have proven themselves great songwriters and arrangers even without the bellicose sound of their past releases. Coupled with predominant acoustic guitars, well placed percussion accents and haunting vocals we are brought into a dark world where we can overlook terrible suffering.

b9 InViD lyrics paint a vivid picture of a doomed lineage at time of the Rapture. The bloodline is put through the trials of defeat, great loss and humiliation to which the only possible answer is self- elimination. The final line of the track, “Save the last bullet you have for yourself!” brings to fruition the only appropriate end for such a tale. To balance the taste of hopelessness that Luftwaffe has left with us in "Bloodline", we have an intense ode to a Sacred hill brought to us by Awen on the reverse side of this split.

Awen has always been an exciting project for this reviewer, and I believe it would be fair to say that Awen has consistently created great music in a ritualistic fashion and the B-side to this record, “Helith’s Hill” is no exception.

Awen for this track is Erin Powell, Eric Kristoffer, Sabrina Steiner, Katrin X and Per Nilson. This line-up has successfully steered the sound of the Awen towards a deeper sense of composition in contrast with the previously minimalist approach utilized in past recordings such as the FUThARK CDr. Following the morbid nature of Erin’s appearance on “Bloodline” in which he is attributed to (among other instruments) playing bones, on “Helith’s Hill” he one-ups the stakes by playing a human skull.... which I am pretty sure is Illegal in some States....

We are introduced to “Helith’s Hill” by eerie atmospheric samples which lead to a traditional bodhran, smoothly bowed bass and enchanting vocals sung by Katrin X. Creating layer upon layer we see a new depth to Awen in this recording. "Helith's Hill" highlights Awen's musicianship, writing and execution of song. One of the most interesting aspects to Awen is Erin’s minaciously deep voice, which immediately evokes a strong interest in the subject matter and sits perfectly next to with Kartin’s vocal melodies.

“Helith’s Hill” as noted on the insert is dedicated to the Sacred site of Cerne Abbas, referring to the Cerne Abbas Giant. The Giant is a large hill-figure carved near the village of which it finds its namesake, Cerne Abbas in South West England. Lyrically, Erin does a wonderful job in the writing of his intelligent ode to the figure. His descriptions of setting in addition to the entrancing ritualistic aspects of his music brings the listener to feel as though they are gazing upon a traditional maypole fertility ceremony in a sort of primordial trance.

Awen brilliantly uses a lock-groove at the end of the record to drive in the feeling of ritual, giving the listener a chance to pull themselves out of the listening experience as they see fit and do not have to be abruptly interrupted by the end of the record, by silence.

Limited to just a pressing of 100, this is a very worthwhile and highly recommended piece for any fan or collector of fine music. Luftwaffe and Awen have created a release that is outside the norm as far as neofolk 7” releases are concerned, and have put forth a work that is highly intelligent, effective and evocative on all fronts. At only $10, there absolutely is no reason to leave this one from your collection.

     



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