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Amarok - Els Nostres Petits Amics CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.75 | 16 ratings

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2 stars Amarok’s debut album was recorded in a solar-powered cottage-turned-studio located in the mountains of northern Catalonia. Except for what sounds like a Casio keyboard played by Robert Santamaria all the instrumentation is acoustic, and many of the song themes are apparently related to nature and environment issues.

There is very little singing on the album, and what there is tends to be ethereal humming and chanting from vocalist Lidia Cerón, who sounds a bit like Enya on anti-depressants. The band apparently spent a year communing with nature and putting together the tracks that make up this album. I can just imagine them scrubbing their hemp clothing on the rocks down by a brook while watching Bambi frolic about among the butterflies and braiding their armpit hair. This should give you some idea what the music sounds like.

I’d place the sound a whole lot closer to ambient New Age than progressive folk. The keyboards set the tone for most of the tracks, while various classical instruments (oboe, violin, bells) and ethnic ones (darbouka, glockenspiel, marimbas, finger drums, gongs) combine to suggest a sort of world music feel.

There are a few interesting moments where the arrangements strive to be more than just background meditation music, mostly on “La Vall de les Marmotes” and “Retorn”. But otherwise this is nearly an hour of the kind of music you want playing quietly on the stereo while you drift off to sleep on a calm spring evening. So it has a purpose, but a fairly limited one.

I love the album’s cover art, what looks like a watercolor sketch that folds out and depicts the cottage the group recorded the album in. The hand lettered liner notes and painting of a wolf standing alert on a rock are also tasteful touches (the band’s name apparently means ‘wolf’ in some Eskimo dialect). But otherwise I have to say that this is borderline as a progressive work, and the album is something that is likely to appeal only to the band’s fans and the kind of people who bathe with healing crystals and eat free-range tofu. As such it qualifies as a two-star work, which is what I’m going to give it. Recommended to Enya and maybe Wendy Carlos fans only.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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