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Favni (Fauns) - LeafFall CD (album) cover


Favni (Fauns)

Prog Folk

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I took a deliberate plunge into the unknown when I ordered this jewel, hoping that my prog GPS/radar is still honed to the max, despite my advancing wisdom (ok, age!). This German prog-folk newcomer released this debut in 2007 with little or no recognition and it's a damn shame! One word describes this sensational recording = WOW! Similar in line-up but different in sound to Swedish sympho-prog group Introitus , this is a union of a Berlin family of musicians , the Hartmanns specifically Jan-Peer, Falk and Nils Hartmann , aided and abetted by dedicated friends to put together a fascinating album that offers , in their words "Music that tells stories - music off the beaten path". Good old JR Tolkien is the basis for the stories, in some cases using his Elvish dialect lyrics to adorn the songs such as" Tauriel" and "Cuivienen". Three epic tracks conspire together to elevate this recording to dizzying heights, the sensational "On Misty Shores" (8mn36s), the drop-dead splendor of "Dead Winter Sleep"(7mn 28s) and the Celtic-tinged "Cuivienen"(11mn 00s), a triumvirate of absolutely first rate prog-folk that has few rivals. The various shorter tracks are no slouches either, holding their own brilliantly. On the majestic "On Misty Shores" the true nature of the modern progressive folk element comes into play, where seductive acoustic instruments (piano, recorder, violin, viola, flute, acoustic guitar) are blended with rock tendencies, namely well appointed guitar riffs, firm bass and brawny drumming. Maja Langholz has a crystalline voice that can flutter towards the angelic but also croon convincingly. The overall mood is perhaps akin to a mellower version of White Willow or a harder version of Norse folksters Shine Dion, both being rather amazing groups with a high level of talent. The raucous electric guitar remains in austere contrast to the otherwise serene arrangement, just a sizzling track that deserves massive applause. "The Sprig Within her Hair" is more traditionally medieval/ folk, male vocals evoking the spirited melody like some jaunty troubadour,, heavily misty with the usual suspects (the lake and the lilies fair) , again a delightful little ditty. The enormously ravishing "Dead Winter Sleep" is a perfect example of why this genre is so ultimately progressive, combining a simple woodwind melody with woven chords of acoustic guitar (amazing solo) and a stellar lead guitar (riff and solo) intervention. Maja sings with shimmering fragility, elevating a haunting chorus to a celestial pinnacle, without any question, this is a magnificent masterpiece that will remain imprinted on your soul for decades to come. The perfect prog-folk tune, loaded with tiny musical details that shimmer in the winter's sleep. With "Tauriel" the violin shepherds the string synths forward, a male vocal that exhorts words that sound like Finnish but in reality are probably from Tolkien's creation of the Elvish language. The weighty folk tendency is upfront and direct, laced within a veil of simplicity and beauty..

"As Her Autumn Song Called" is within the realm of a brisk vocal duet, with woodwinds galore, lyrics sung in English and Elvish, a terrifically rolling song that evokes the country fair (hinting at all the traditional baroque/renaissance idioms). "Lassilanta" is a short recorder solo, a brief respite before tackling the epic finale. "Cuivienem" is the 11 minute show stopper that begins with utter vulnerability, Maja and a guitar conspiring within the loveliest of melodies, as the Elves look up towards the endless night and wonder. A slow oozing lead guitar adds a sprinkle of sizzle to the brewing fire, a masterfully spun web of shadow and filigree, gossamer silks and wisps of heady vapors, supplied by a myriad of instruments performed with perfect dosage. When the piece opens up, the electric guitar decides to go on a tear, little bravado but exquisite in expression, elevating the symphonics to grandiose levels. The keys and synths only add more ornate decoration to the piece. I have fallen in love with this recording, urging my collab colleagues in prog-folk to include them ASAP (which they have, thanks, gents!) and now I must purchase their 2012 release. A massive revelation. Ausgezeichnet! 5 Berlin forest gods

Report this review (#726235)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Today's lesson is on musical alchemy and interbreeding, German style. Take the two progressive bands from that country both named FAUN and blend them together, then fold in the classic CAROL OF HARVEST disk from 1978 and a postdoc in Tolkien, gestate a few years longer than normal and "deliver" a mature litter of FAUNS in the form of their debut full length disk, "Leaffall".

The medieval group FAUN has imprinted its somewhat dark acoustic reverie here, and the moodily metallic blasts and jarring shifts recall the neo prog group (who nonetheless exuded almost as much folk personality as a neo group can) FAUN from the late 90s. The brilliant album closer "Cuiviénen" sounds better with every listen and meets the quality standards of the original tracks from CAROL of HARVEST. If you don't know any of these bands, let me just say that a couple of the more sprightly tracks owe much to what JETHRO TULL delivered on "Songs from the Wood", but the vocalists contribute to a fluidity that Mr Anderson knew enough not to attempt.

For all its alternating grunge attack and elfin musings, this is a cohesive work with an undercurrent of the otherworldly and underworldly coursing through it and bursting forth determinedly. A congenial companion for the Fall to come.

Report this review (#817730)
Posted Sunday, September 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From the city of open minds, Berlin, comes this German act, found in mid-90's by brothers Jan-Peer Hartmann (guitar, vocals), Nils Hartmann (drums, guitar, vocals) and Falk Hartmann (bass, guitar, vocals).The early line-up featured also Maja Langholz on flutes and voice.Fauns were inspired by the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, often dealing with his landscapes through their lyrics, but their early CDR's and demos were circulating only in inderground circles.In 2001 the band had an expanded line-up with Paul Lesny on guitar and Stefan Ermel on keyboards, unfortunately Ermel tragically passed away two years later, replaced by Mira Stübing on keyboards and Kirsten Middeke on vilons and flutes.Finally the band released the official debut ''LeafFall'' in 2007, mainly consisting of tracks already presented in their earlier works.

Fauns' debut is a well-crafted work of folky Progressive Rock, full of delightful melodies, ethereal atmospheres but also occasional harder moments to spice things up a bit.The tracks are rather long (despite the album's short length, just 40 minutes) with decent to superb arrangements with flutes and acoustic guitars leading the way, supported by keyboards and heavy electric guitars.The vocals, both female and male, are great, having a strong archaic flavor, especially the voice of Maja Langholz is absolutely crystal-clear and dreamy.The production though makes no minunderstanding, giving the group this nice combination of the modern sound with the nostalgic vibes.Very good melodies are offered through the very nice guitar work, elegant and memorable flute parts, the dramatic violin parts and the smooth piano lines, creating intense soundscapes from the past, sometimes built on excellent interplays.At moments the compositions have a light symphonic flavor, thus bringing to mind bands such as compatriots EDEN, HOELDERLIN and REBEKKA.

It is really a shame how this band remained unknown for such a long time, escaping the prog radars.This interesting Progressive Folk Rock with no weak moments make the album strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#895560)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars German Prog Folk family band Fauns (not to be mistaken with the German Pagan Folk band "Faun" -- with no "s") issued this very Tolkein-inspired international debut in 2007 to some critical acclaim and then their 2011 followup masterwork Awaiting the Sun before fading from sight. Whether the band still exists or the Berlin-based Hartmann family have gone on to other things or experienced some illnesses or falling outs I do not know; their music is very difficult to hear much less acquire but well worth the effort. They have quite a little back catalogue of albums that never found international release, but if you can get your ears on LeafFall or Awaiting the Sun you can thank me later.
Report this review (#1470034)
Posted Sunday, September 27, 2015 | Review Permalink

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