Omnia – Alive! - 4/5
I'll be honest, I stumbled into this in the most haphazard of ways; seeing an image of a pretty face on youtube with unusual tattoos and clicking to see what it was all about. It was on mute for a good couple of minutes before I noticed the harp and some sort of didgeridoo and became intrigued as to just what kind of music they were playing. Not Folk Metal, not Folk Rock, not even Neo-Folk but just Pagan Folk. This merry band of Dutch travellers are steeped in the traditions of the style, so if you're looking for anything electronic being played then you won't find them here, nothing more than a microphone powering their acoustic masterpieces, but don't for a moment think you'll find them short of variety.
Between the five of them, four lend vocals, one plays the pipes, there's throat singing, harps, didgeridoo's, bodhran beats (a sort of drum), hurdy-gurdy melodies, and more I can't even name; the only instruments that you might actually recognise is the drum kit (or at least the parts of drum kit he actually uses) and when one musician breaks out an acoustic guitar, and even then he often doesn't use your standard tuning. You'd think it'd all end up a little chaotic – even though obviously no more than four can be played at any one point – but it's far from it, each element implemented in a manner so as to blend into the overall harmony being created with often only a singular element taking the lead, be that the lead vocals or his flute performances during instrumental tracks. There is never that sense that each musician needs to be prominently playing something, taking power in subtly layering atmospheric lines to enshroud you in their world.
But to talk only of the compositions would yield just half of what this album offers, as it is with traditional folk that it's a means of telling a tale, the same is true here; of Satyr's (often depicted with a man's torso, goats legs and pan pipes) making love in the forests, traditional melodies such as “Scarborough Fair,” and tales ranging from the Witches of “Hamlet,” to a recitation of Edgar Allan Poe's “The Raven.” Their inspiration is more than apparent yet it never feels like merely a collection of cover songs, each track injected with their own complementary melodies. To listen to Omnia is more than just to hear something that appeals to the audial senses, it's to embark on journey in time; to a medieval land of beauty, beasts and poetry; to hear their tales of the lands that once were, to sing, dance and be merry, floating away to their sweet, gentle melodies. Now where did I put that flagon of mead...
Highlights: Wytches Brew, Alive!, Satyr Sex
Since I can think of no greater starting than my own, enjoy their live performance.