By the salty tongue of Loki, that terrible jester. I am really a happy camper today. Because I almost feared that Faun would suddenly veer away from the path to the right that they took with their 2013 piece Von den Elben.
But luckily, there’s nothing to it. It would have been a real pity, had they tried the old well-known howling again. But hey, I guess that Universal’s fingerprints are all over this particular crime. And those folks calmed Faun‘s worst urges down.
Because one short year after this thunderclap of a totally different and more commercial record, Faun released Luna. And this is some neat piece of Medieval Folk if there ever was one.
Even if the pretty virulent critical voices probably sent the band reeling. And it shows in the production itself. To add insult to injury, Oliver S. Tyr promised to set his very own writing chops in motion. To start composing by himself again, he said. And let the old influences have their say again, he said.
Ah, come again? That’s not really what you mean, right?
But truly, this whole production is a pretty wild balancing act between two styles. First, you get the modern, more commercial influences, the ones that did not sit well at all with the extremist acolytes of the pvre lore of Faun-esque Pagan nirvana. But then you get a fair dose of the old-style Faun that really was not much else than chanting about the countryside.
Luna kinda sounds to me like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. And indeed, some of those tracks are very near that terrible point of no return. The one where even forced resuscitation would not work anymore.
But I could but take notice of the snazzy and often dopey comments of some of the die-hard disciples of the Faun community. Those that doggedly remain in their controversial and overly stoned views on the goodness of outlived psychedelic song-smithing of the olden days. Stuff we already kinda heard before, reminiscent of crap we suffered through during the long-gone times of Pink Floyd & Co.
So, let’s have a care, or we will all end up dancing deliriously about the fire at night, complete with a total loss of memory in the morning. Not that the market did not cough up some real masters, like the late Heilung and their stellar live performance. Or a lighter version, but still highly professional concoction Kyn just did in 2019.
But let’s get back to Luna, lest we lose ourselves in corny rhetoric.
The critics of the new style do have a point. Von den Elben was undoubtedly a good and truly refreshing piece, but plagued by a somewhat overeager and pretty shallow influence of mainstream players. Like the infamous Santiano, for instance. Luckily, Luna put an end to this and we do find a much-improved level of focus and authenticity in this soundscape of theirs. Not just something the label decreed to jack up the commercial value of this decidedly talented bunch.
You now get a style that is anchored solidly in Pagan and Medieval Folk. Yet, it must be said that Faun‘s offering has relatively little to do with true medieval music. Or nothing at all, come to think of it, apart from the use of archaic instruments. For comparison, check out The Irrlichter. These gals excel in more traditional fare.
Luna got a much better reception from the fan crowd than its predecessor(s). The record appeared in the Dutch charts for the first time and made it to rank # 4 on the German ones. Well done.
As always, Faun‘s outstanding musical prowess is on full display. All of that delivered by seasoned musicians in their prime. If only they could have ditched the intro. But – alas – they didn’t. As is often the case, this one is just a lost cause.
The following two tracks – Walpurgisnacht and Buntes Volk – are the real deal, though. That’s the kind of tune we would want more of. The video of the former is remarkable, by the way, with hints to black magic and archaic lore. And loads of delicious clichés that we truly enjoyed.
Then you get the main course like Menuett, Die Blaue Stunde or – again – Hekate, to name only a few. Whereas the last one kinda navigates very near that terrible abyss of terror.
I couldn’t quite get used to stuff like Frau Erde or Cunti Simus. Those are that dreaded return to the old-style horrors of the dark night. I guess they are Ollie’s compromise to appease the wrath of the cultists of the lore of Gaia.
But let’s wrap this up before we all overheat.
Luna gets us a much more authentic brand of what Faun will become at a later stage. Away from the somewhat artificial former offerings. It is very apparent that Faun took control and exercised it, too. Yet, the old sins still kinda simmer in this medieval stew of theirs. The record surely boasts enough qualities for a few pretty thorough listens. But it also did not floor me.
Faun still need to come down further from that intellectual high horse they so comfortably sat on. Or else stop calling themselves Pagan or Medieval Folk, and truly start to talk to a totally different, yet very limited, audience.
Then again, the improvement is definitely on full display and Luna is a welcome and pretty juicy add-on over its former record. If they can continue down that road in the future, we will be looking forward to something truly stellar.
As to this crew, the captain of the ship will definitely instruct the lookout to scan for more of this band. Finger’s crossed, as we say.
Ed’s note: This is a new edition of an old post formerly written in German.