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4 stars First of all, IMO, it is wrogly labeled here as Prog Folk. I have not listened to their first album yet, but in this one I can't hear any folk influences whatsoever. It is rather very dark symphonic prog with very complex song structure, and very rich sound, mainly because due to variety of instruments involved - there is plenty of keyboards, and apart from usual guitar, bass, drums you can also hear flute, violon, cello, verious percussions and even sitar. There are 5 main instrumentalists on this album plus one pure vocalist, plus six guest musicians, including female background vocals. This album (consisiting of 7 tracks) is sixty six and a half minutes of darkness, which will probably put you in a very sombre mood, however it is very much enjoyable. It is not an easy piece to swallow in one go, and requires certain tuning in from a listener. I had listened to it probably about ten times before I started this short review. By its darkness and melancholy it can remind of some scandinavian prog, and more obvious comparison I can make is with Morte Macabre (playing horror movies soundtracks), but, my God, how much better, more variable, more complex, and , in general, more interesting this album by Thork is! Highly recommended to all those prog lovers who like dark mood in music, and in any case an excellent addition to any prog music collection.
Report this review (#41296)
Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. Really complex music (elements of folk, classical and down right weird stuff) and excellent musicianship. I've knocked 1 star off for Ea (a tad over stretched out) but "L'Origine" is sheer brillinace.
Report this review (#42999)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars THORK is a side project of the Maurin brothers from the band NIL. "Weila" is a little difficult to describe, almost gothic at times and dark most of the time. It's difficult to know what genre this should be in but most people wouldn't think of "Folk" when they hear it. Complex arrangments, as unusual sounds pop up including programming and unconventional instruments. A lot of intricate things going on that require not only your full attention but repeated listens in order to appreciate it.

The first song "L'origine" is like the temptress to lure you in to "Weila". It is symphonic, phenomenal and fascinating music. The French vocalist is extraordinory. He reminds me of some of the powerful Italian vocalists from the seventies. For me this song is worth the price of admission all by itself. It opens powerfully but sounds even better when it calms down. Vocals before a minute. It builds again to a powerful sound. Nice.The contrasts continue. The vocals are gothic when it settles again 5 minutes in. Some violin 9 1/2 minutes in. "D'ilectable Enniu" opens with some instrumental work before a dark and fairly heavy soundscape takes over. It changes before 2 minutes as percussion then violin comes in. It's darker again before 3 1/2 minutes as vocals join in. Some spoken vocals 6 minutes in followed by some eerie violin after 7 minutes. Just an incredible song ! "Errance" is a short track with guitar and vocals. The epic "Ea" at over 21 minutes long and it doesn't sound gothic it is gothic, from the vocals that speak, to the brooding undercurrent, to the sampling. Love the scorching guitar. There's even a Zeuhl vibe after 6 1/2 minutes with deep vocals. Great section. The guitar makes some noise 12 1/2 minutes in and it sounds incredible. Vocals are back before 18 minutes then the song starts to wind down.

"Errances" is another short piece and this time we get vocal melodies and lots of atmosphere. The vocals on "Danse De La Terrs" are done by NIL singer Roselyne, and done beautifully. I like the section after 2 minutes where the guitar plays and the drums pound away. It turns dark 4 1/2 minutes in then Roselyne adds her vocal melodies after 5 minutes. Great sound.She starts to sing and it sounds like the organ is pulsating slowly then drums come in at 8 minutes followed by guitar and a full sound. Nice. The guitar is fantastic ! He's ripping it up before 10 minutes. The song ends abruptly. The final tune is a highlight for me as well, from the scorching guitars, to the flute, spacey synths, violin and great vocals.This song is pure brilliance ! Especially the last few minutes.

An outlandish way to end this amazing record.

Report this review (#90919)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ha-ha, Prog Folk. Maybe Prog FOLKS? :)

Another discovery of this Spring – French Dark Symphonic Prog (with oriental and theatrical leanings) band with their phenomenal “Weila” album. They’ve mixed ANGLAGARD’s approach with TAAL’s diversity and GRAAF’s darkness. Some really folky stuff can be found here – mostly when violin and flute play – and avant bits are scattered here and there as well. Fortunately, this is very tasty mix, eclectic but enjoyable, with satisfaction guaranteed. Songwriting is strong, without unnecessary complexness – there’s nothing to add or improve here! What a shame most listeners aren’t familiar with it – just take a look how many reviews it has :( . This is a Must for every Progger, especially those who like Dark Side of Prog

Report this review (#123447)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Thork is a band without biography, so it's quite difficult to gather some information about it, and more, a true information about it especially if you don't understand French. Anyhow, some hints can be found from here and there: Thork was founded at 1998 by Sébastien Fillion and Antoine Aureche and later Michel Lebeau, Samuel Maurin and Claire Northey joined the band. By the time the band was very young and the players were just a teenagers, except Samuel Maurin who was a bit older.

According to them, they played dark progressive folk and that it is, for their original sound is bottomless dark, truly progressive and deeply complex with folk influences appearing for example in Claire Northey's violin playing. The darkness Thork achieves to insert into their music is so thick it propably could be cut with a knife. Most of the ideas and influences comes from celtic and medieval music and issues, yet also metal, classical and even jazz influences can be found in there, but their sound is still extremely original without a slighest idea of similar band.

Their second album We-ila is an utter masterpiece! Put the record into your player, set volume level a bit higher than normally and push play... The first thought is 'Ouch, Now we go...' and within few seconds you realise that you are listening at something great. Within few minutes you Know you are listening to something Great!

The album starter L'Origine is a real mind blower, it starts with a really tight drums and heavy guitar. Soon one of the finest singer ever walked on earth joins in and the song is pure feast, balancing somewhere between heavy progressive metal and dark, frightening folk, a Thork's own playground. They compose a brilliant mix of violin driven headbanging with a very emotional vocals. Later it calms down and turns to dark beauty leaving most of the metal behind.

What we are talking about here is really dark and beautiful prog with a nice multilayered complexity, very professional playing and lots of instruments. At times the music varies from violin oriented dark folk, from mind blowing heavy metal bursts into beautiful vocal melodies. There is no room for improvement - everything is just perfect!

The second track Delectable Ennui is one of those rarities that makes you cry inside that 'how can anything be so f...g Great! and nutshells the brilliant idea of Thork's music very nicely. It's a slow tempo darkness, stunning vocals and choirs, that goes on and on and one can only wonder how can they put so many feelings in so less notes. Then comes a short interlude Errance and massive Ea marches in. It makes you piss into your pants in fear and cry for the beauty of music!

The feeling througout the record is like you were in some fantasy novel's caves or castles following some dark rituals in trance. Not in vain of Carmina Burana but something totally different, scary and beautiful.

After a short interlude the feast continues. Dance de la Terre joins in being the most rhytmically complex, most NIL-like piece here. Even vocals are performed by Roselyne Berthet. It makes you shiver. The last track is no exception, being just as great as everything on this disc.

No weak moments, total brilliance from the very first sound into the last one. This is certainly one of the best prog records ever made - it brilliantly combines quite a lot of the aspects I seek from progressive rock and music overall. At first, it's really complex using many levels of simultaneous themes, odd time signatures, changes, long and complex compositions... Then is the mind blowing power, metal is used very carefully and sophisticatedly. The vocal parts are of top quality also, not only the lead vocals but choirs, samples, spoken words, everything. And then there's the instrumental quality, how all those are playing together, how the ideas are rich for example using the violin and how they never fall into for example individual soloing. This album cannot be recommended highly enough. Just buy it!

Report this review (#166037)
Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars The true experience of being thrown around in a sonic washing machine

I´ve been getting into the French prog scene of late. Always been into Magma and their cohorts, as well as a lot of the symphonic and avant garde music to come out of the country during the 70s and 80s. The scene was very broad and eclectic, and what I indeed thought was a thing of the past, has thoroughly been refuted the past half year. I came across the band Nil and the album Nil Novo sub Sole. This record smashed open the doors to modern French music for me. I got extremely intrigued, and fantasized about other albums exploring more of these, up till then, unexplored sonic venues to me.

Thork is actually a sister band to Nil. The Maurin brothers, David and Samuel, feature on both - with Samuel credited as a writer. The similarities are obvious between the bands, though the female vocals of Nil Novo, here are replaced with a male front singer, that gives you that distinguish French spice. Reminds me a bit of the guy in Ange, but more mellow and somber.

The music contained herein is moody, complex, relaxing and at times grandiose like a rhino dressed in black. You´ll find everything spanning from symphonic textures, zeuhl, metal, jazz fusion - to small snippets of folk. I guess the folk tag was given to these guys due to the other albums in their discography, because this album is frolicking in a wonderful orgy of all the mentioned genres above, and feels eclectic above anything else. It´s a natural symbiosis, that either through the use of melodic stick playing, grooving thundering zeuhl like bass lines - or that of the ethereal and anxious keys, binds this music together. On top of this, you have choirs popping up in a very dramatic way, and makes your mind wander to Gothic churches, vampires and back to a time where you´d go down to the bar and order absinthe with a tiny touch of ox blood, and people around you´d say: I´ll have what he´s having!

To counterpoint my own words, I guess you can find folk traces here as well. The usage of the violin on some tracks slightly mimics European traditional music, with a rather staccato and skewed sound, whilst still remaining those acoustic characteristics. There´s a load of other instruments involved in this recording like dununs, djembé, guira, cloches, sitar, tabla and the cello, where most of these are on full display during the last track, which incidentally also is my fave. The Thork experience is more subdued here, throwing itself into Indian flavored rhythmic excursions with a tiny dose of electronics, and some wonderful bass work played on stick. It suddenly explodes into the characteristic Maurin sound, you certainly also will pick up in Nil and throughout this album, - and how exactly does one explain that? -Just to elaborate on the washing machine metaphor, which incidentally still remains apt. Picture this ferocious amalgamation of sound being hurled head first into a diamond shaped contour - with the music bouncing off all the different surfaces - only to be flung in a slightly off course direction. It never gets truly circular, but rather tumbles around in this jewel, whether it´s giving off soft and subtle sounds or breaching out in beautiful hellish structures. Music from within a diamond - yeah that sounds about right...

The only thing I feel letting this album a bit down is perhaps the absence of drummer extraordinairre Frank Niebel, which isn´t to say that Michel Lebeau is poor - only that Niebel in his jazzy outbreaks and off beat rhythms, had an original way of transforming and elevating all of the sounds around him into an altogether different kind of beast - one you couldn´t quite describe. I feel Lebeau tries duplicating that vibe, and he does so very well, but I just feel like something is missing. -And maybe this is the thing that, alongside Sébastien Penel´s vocals, separate Thork from Nil. This is of course just a preference from my side, but if you like Nil - you´ll certainly want to jump on board this black French steamboat.

This album is recommended to everyone with a taste for experimental music, that is propulsive like zeuhl, grandiose like a weeping symphony or beautiful like a ray of light shot through the center of our most precious diamonds.

Report this review (#484283)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Thork's Weila is a dark collection of compositions with a tone reminiscent of a folkier version of mid-1970s King Crimson. Imagine a mashup between the pastoral folkiness and range of different instruments characteristic of Anglagard (drawing more from their dark moments) and the intensity and nods to King Crimson demonstrated by Anekdoten, and add perhaps a pinch of Magma's percussive, rhythmic compositional approach and that should give you an idea of the sort of sonic universe Thork are operating in (namely, a bloody weird one). This is one to lend repeated listens to, because with everything that's going on here it would be difficult to catch what Thork are doing purely on the basis of a single listen.
Report this review (#945196)
Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Nil's Maurin brothers' side project (or was Nil their side project?) come together with a large ensemble of collaborators to create some of the most difficult to describe music in the entire prog lexicon with this, their second album.

1. "L'origine" (11:40) sounding very much like a NIL song, this one opens up heavily before settling into a calm weave over which Sébastien Penel sings. The folk-ish instruments are interspersed within the heavy, almost metal musical soundscape--which only ramps up with a chorus. So many instruments! And only the cymbals and repetitive bass line to keep everything moving at a regulated pace. Big pause at 4:50 in which Sébastien moves into an operatic tenor for a powerful, theatric declaration. Lead guitar and cello bring us out of the stark stagecraft, helping to initiate a return to progginess--though it's still quite theatric in a kind of 1980s hair band (or NINE STONES CLOSE) kind of way. At 7:45 fast piano arpeggi rise out from the background to usher in a more tense passage of MYSTERY-like music. Switch to cello and jazzy support at 9:30 as Séb continues his Marc Atkinson-like performance. Excellent song--full of proggy unpredictability. (18.5/20) 2. "Délectable ennui" (9:07) again, the bass, guitar, mood, and rhythms of this sons feel quite like those of NIL sauf the at-times-dominating presence of Sébastien Fillion's keyboards and many incidental instruments representing many cultures of the World Music scene. Great guitar solo in the speeded up eighth minute which is then followed by a slowed down section in which droning cello is overwhelmed by kicking and screaming violin. (17.75/20)

3. "Errance" (1:07) like a little operatic interlude with Sébastien Penel singing in a That Joe Payne kind of way over some dissonant electric guitar picking. (4.25/5)

4. "Ea" (21:18) a very dark, plodding song with lots of avant garde and classical leanings. Seebastien Penel's theatric performance is quite dominating and diabolical. The music is quite intricate, spacious, and, again, avant classical in its derivations but turns toward a more funky Zeuhlish jazz-rock in the seventh minute as choral vocals pepper the background over the angular music. In the ninth minute Samuel's ChapmanStick and Michel Lebeau's bass drum mirror each other with a syncopated staccato pattern over which synths and Sébastien (and a little vocalise of Roselyne Berthet) Penel populate. The screaming guitar soloing in the 13th and 14th minutes are quite Fripp-like but then are then followed by some gorgeously pacifying violin play. This beautiful passage is then ended in the 17th minute with a propulsion into some high octane playing which is then culminated with Sébastien's reaching voice and every body playing very loudly. This then slowly decays into a beautiful almost waltz-like spacious strings-dominated section until we are left with a simple weave of bass notes and guitar arpeggi. What a ride! I'll have to listen to this another half dozen times in order to make sense of it all. (36/40)

5. "Errances" (1:04) another interlude of dissonant notes and chords, this time coming from effected electric guitar and synth strings and synth voices. (4.25/5)

6. "Danse de la terre" (10:48) deep bass thrum with synth percussion and synth cello with Aftrican hand instruments rising from beneath. Beautiful violin play within the African mood music gives this a kind of Cirque du Soleil kind of feel--until the two-minute mark when tuned percussion arpeggi pave the way for more NIL-like music with rockin' lead guitar playing over the top. Nice music. Nice soloing with some Steve Hackett-like moments. At the end of the fourth minute we shift into a faster gear while Sébastien Fillion displays his synth soloing skills. But the we are quickly broght back to a slow crawl while slow guitar arpeggi, mulitple vocalise tracks from Roselyne Berthet and rolling bass and swing drums carry us into a forest of faery magic. in the eighth minute we are brought to a complete standstill as an ominous synth chord conjures up the feeling of the presence of some mysterious shadow beast. We turn to run away with a furious display of jazz-rock fusion which somehow turns into Genesis instrumentalism at its finest. Wow! Another incredible journey! (19/20)

7. "Immanence" (11:26) opens with Asiatic stringed instrument and hand shakers before talking drum and sitar take over. All of the aforementioned World instruments congeal with a tabla as fretless bass and flute join in. Tribal chant voices seem to come out of some stringed instrument for a bit before the drums rhythm switches while cello and Tony Levin-like ChapmanStick display take the front. Impressive! In the fifth minute, strings synth and other keyboard sounds enter and take over, making the song turn a corner into an exposition of full on Arabian prog rock. Then, in the sixth minute, a lone Magma-like Fender Rhodes takes over while Sébastien Penel's effected voice sings plaintively over the top. Séb's plea made, we drop into a dreamy keyboard electronica soundscape in which Fender Rhodes and flute gently massage our ears and minds. At the end of the tenth minute we revert into an African-like tribal motif with tribal choral vocals before the fretless and Fender let Séb take us back into his pleading keening world. Hauntingly distorted solo electric guitar is echoed in a cave-like vacuum before drums and band rejoin to take us into the wild finale. Such is the unpredicatbility of life in the "Third World." So powerful! (19.5/20)

Total Time 66:30

Because of my previous exposure to the more atmospheric (and, at times, pretty) follow up to this album--2006's The music of We ila is far heavier, far darker and more avant garde than I was expecting.

A five star exposition of eclectic boundary-pushing heavy avant prog that every professed prog lover should give a listen to.

Report this review (#1525477)
Posted Thursday, February 4, 2016 | Review Permalink

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