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Serpentyne - Myths and Muses CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.45 | 4 ratings

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5 stars UK band SERPENTYNE was formed back in 2009, and released their debut album "Stella Splendens" the following year. Since then they have been touring extensively in the UK and in Europe, up to and including performing at several festival. "Myths and Muses" is their second studio production, and was released in the summer of 2014.

Serpentyne is among the bands I see classified as neo-folk, a style of music I really don't know all that much about but which I presume are applied to artists that approach folk music in a manner regarded as contemporary or modern. As far as that goes Serpentyne accomplish that with ease, and have managed to create an album that combines the traits of being familiar sounding yet also adding distinct and often dominant traits from the modern world into a folk music context.

There's nothing substantial new about this really, as rock bands have paired of their compositions with folk music and vice versa for many years already, and the classic folk rock is given a slight nod on this production as well. What separates Serpentyne from folk rock bands is that they focus more on pairing off the folk music with electronic instruments, and as such the end result is a tad closer to the likes of, for instance, Ozric Tentacles, but with folk music details and vocals in place of cosmic and psychedelic elements.

Drones and techno inspired rhythms are key features in the landscapes crafted by Serpentyne, creating a compelling, energetic foundation that carries the songs forward with ease, and the hurdy-gurdy combines easily with this foundation to add a subtle, organic darkness to the proceedings. The crystal clear lead vocals of Maggie/Beth Sand serves as a stunning contrast to this darker backdrop, and complemented by flute, violin and harmonium in addition to what I though sounded like emulated bag pipes, additional acoustic and electronic percussion, layered harmony vocals and chants this all combines into a stunningly hypnotic end product. Kind of like a futuristic medieval landscape if you like, intense and driven in a good way and without the need for any dramatic effects to maintain tension and attention.

When that is said, this isn't an album of 160 BPM rhythms backing a female vocalist and Celtic inspired folk details. The landscapes explored are varied, and in terms of variation in intensity, the use of sparse arrangements and dreamladen interludes, as well as elongated passages and songs settling at a slower pace, a band like aforementioned Ozric Tentacles is a fair comparison, and Serpentyne doesn't ever kick off into a breakneck speed oriented affair. That the rhythms are techno-inspired doesn't mean that they are techno, to specify that, but that there's some techno or house music that is a likely source of inspiration be it directly or indirectly. The folk music details aren't limited to the generic Celtic either, as both Irish, Scandinavian and Middle Eastern inspired textures and sounds are applied, alongside a few that to my ears sounds just as English Earl Grey tea.

All in all a very well made production, without any weak spots as such as I experience this album. A highly compelling and hypnotic affair that should have a broad appeal across most demographics. As far as a key audience is concerned, I'd guess that those who enjoy folk and world music just as much as bands such as Ozric Tentacles might be at the heart of it, alongside those with a general interest in bands described as neo folk.

Windhawk | 5/5 |


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