I perfectly remember the first time I saw Katja live. It was on April 17th, 2016, in Madrid (Spain). In our country, we aren’t very used to having neofolk and pagan folk musicians from the rest of Europe visiting our cities (luckily this is changing bit by bit), but we have been following these artists for a long time. It was after
performance, accompanied by the rest of
that we were able to enjoy her voice and her songs, and finally reach a world that we had only been able to touch through literature and the internet. Katja Moslehner‘s work with FAUN was the inspiration for many of us, who are encouraged to write music while observing the beauty that surrounds us, so it has been a pleasure to write a few lines about the new chapter of her career: solo this time, but accompanied very well by artists of international prestige.
I’ll start off by talking about the album in general lines. Am Weltenrand (At the world’s border) is the first solo work by the German artist after a long career with our beloved FAUN and after numerous collaborations with other renowned artists in the scene, such as
Subway to Sally.
Released on April 2nd, 2021, it features 12 songs through which Katja launches a personal declaration of love. In her lyrics, we find love for nature, folk tales, swans and the cultures that coexist in our world. Her songs travel from very emotional and intimate moments to joyful celebrations in which we breathe friendship and perceive the ties that unite us.
Moslehner also reflects this love through music, bridging our well-known Central Europe (with some hints of the British Isles) and the Middle East. This cultural journey is present in most of Am Weltenrand‘s songs in the form of ethnic instruments and traditional metrics of their peoples. Near the end of the album, we can also hear ethnic voices that remind us of the Native American tribes and shamanic communities of Northern Europe, who keep their connection with the land and with their ancestors alive. All this united by the soft voice of the artist, who gently invites us to accompany her on this journey.
The album is a smooth and pleasant work to listen to, with a graceful voice accompanied by a well studied and worked out atmosphere. It evokes the image of a feather elegantly perched on the surface of the water. It is also important to highlight the technical aspect of the album, where
manages to unite all the instruments in a clean way, balancing their frequencies and giving simplicity to instrumentally complex songs. Am Weltenrand is a measured, careful and polished work, as well as intimate, warm and gentle.
Let’s talk about the songs on the album. The path is opened by the homonymous song ‘Am Weltenrand‘ with a great festive energy that transports us to a joyous popular dance. It truly is a folk song, easy to sing, which already displays the union between East and West that reminds us of the initiatives of other artists such as
The German artist invites us to discover traditional musical instruments such as Wim B. Dobbrisch’s shawm (which in the song reminds us of the hurdy-gurdy dog) or
ney (the oldest wind instrument), both originally from the Middle East. Katja celebrates the union between cultures, in this case using a traditional Bulgarian melody called ‘Sharena Gaida‘.
The next song, ‘Blätter Rauschen‘, introduces an ethereal atmosphere created by the strings of the dulcimer, the cello and various wind instruments. The voice invites us to enter this vivid landscape of leaves in the wind and precious harmonies, adorned in the final section with kulning-like chanting: a vocal technique typical of Northern Europe. The song travels from an initial softness to an intense ending, where
Maya Fridman‘s cello and
percussion take centre stage.
‘So frei‘ is a simple and intimate track: it sets aside the complex instrumentation to tell us about the inner world of the artist. At the beginning, we find the voice of
Joachim Witt reciting
followed by a soft piano that accompanies Katja in this sensitive and personal song that, in the artist’s words, describes “following our own compass” through the flight of swans.
In ‘Der König weint‘ we find a more traditional song structure, reminiscent of a story sung by a bard or a storyteller. His melody, conducted on a smaller scale by the guitars of
and Ben Aschenbach, conveys melancholic but hopeful emotions. Mick Loos adds his uilleann pipes to the mix, painting green a narrative landscape that we quickly associate with one of Moslehner’s inspirations for the record: the Welsh bard
One of the great cultural exchanges on the album is found on the fifth track: ‘Valkyrie‘. By reading its name we easily evoke the Asgardian guards who cradle the fallen in battle, and the song itself speaks of these maidens of purity, traditionally associated with swans. However, after an introduction, the musical dimension of the song takes us back to the Middle East and Sephardic melodies. Built in ⅞ (a rhythm widely used in these regions) and led by Efrén López‘s hurdy-gurdy, Moslehner unites Norse mythology with the sounds of the East, bringing two seemingly distant cultures closer together.
With ‘Noah‘ and ‘Perlen im Sand‘ we reach the middle of the album: a quiet valley that offers us peace and rest. With the first song, Katja tells a personal story about a refugee child, sung on an instrumental basis in which the ney by Valentina Bellanova and the Afghan lutes by Efrén López stand out. The second theme surprises with a more varied instrumental formation, where we find a lot of plucked and plucked strings accompanied by modern percussion.
‘Mit Dir‘ is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic songs on the album. It opens with a friendly Irish set led by the fiddle of
(Eluveitie) and Valentina Bellanova’s flutes, accompanied by guitar and backing vocals of
Satria B. Karsono
which surprisingly brings Native American -like colors to the mix . A very positive song that invites you to dance. It is followed by ‘Hexenlied‘, a traditional German song that Moslehner internationalizes by adding ethnic voices and the sounds of Eric Manouz‘s hang and Jean Walther‘s santur. These ethnic voices are once again heard in ‘Reich’mir die Hände‘, the tenth song on the album, with a positive spirit and a pleasant flow reminiscent of pop music.
In the final stretch of the album Katja presents ‘Schwerelos‘, a tender ballad accompanied by the harp of
and the string trio of Shir-Ran Yinon. Finally, the German artist surprises us with ‘Caritas Abundat‘, the last song of her debut. It is a piece of sacred music accompanied by an electronic environment and Efrén López’s instruments. Moslehner manages to transport us inside a cathedral to dedicate one of the musical works of
Hildegard of Bingen,
a famous 12th-century saint whose invaluable legacy continues to be the subject of study.
In Am Weltenrand, Katja Moslehner offers us a very multifaceted and personal first solo album, full of emotion and love for the cultures of the world. With a sound between Medieval European music and traditional Middle Eastern modes, she shows us the importance of building bridges between us and coming together in a great community at a time when we couldn’t be more apart.
– DaniEditor: SaraPhotos 1,2: Heiko Roith
Daily Disc Katja Moslehner – Am Weltenrand (2021)
Cliff de Booy
A couple of months ago, our CeltCast photographer André asked me: “Have you heard Am Weltenrand? The new single of
That’s how this story started! And today… is the release date of the full album! Because of that, we will play the second single So Frei on our radio station tonight.
Personally, I love the sounds of the voila, violin, hammered dulcimer, guda drum, hurdy-gurdy, uilleann pipes, cello and harp. The perfect mix for this mythic pagan folk album. Katja was inspired by Taliesin (the famous Celtic bard), Swans, Valkyren, and annual festivals. The content of the songs goes back to ancient times, where bards spoke of the beings of the trees and Hildegard von Bingen sang of the life force. Do you love
and German folk music, then you will love this one for certain!
The booklet contains all the lyrics and is decorated with stunning photos of
My favourite songs are: So Frei, Mit Dir and Hexenlied.
8 years after their debut album Drehvolution,
has brought out their second record Circle Divine. It would be really easy to call ZiRP the hobby band of their most famous member Stephan Groth, but that would be wrong for two reasons. One: it would take away from the other members, all true musicians in their own right; and secondly: ZiRP already existed BEFORE Stephan joined
It was actually ZiRP’s music that caught the eye of one Oliver S. Tyr, and made Stephan a Faun member.
ZiRP itself started when Stephan Groth was looking for musicians to start a folk band. Rhythm guitarist Olaf Peters was the first one and he turned out to be the perfect musical partner, with great picking techniques. Soon the duo were writing tunes together. During the writing process drummer Florian Fügemann, at that point best known for his work with classical pop band
joined ZiRP; and as a trio, they recorded ZiRP’s first album Drehvolution, an album that came out in 2012.
Two tracks of Drehvolution feature guest bassist Florian Kolditz, something that, as Stephan explains: ‘Felt so good that he became a permanent member in 2012 and our line-up has remained unchanged since then.‘
After the release of Drehvolution and the subsequent tour that lasted till 2015, it went rather quiet around ZiRP, most likely caused by the huge success Faun was having with their music. A silence I thought was a shame, actually, because Drehvolution was filled with lovely experimental balfolk tunes, showcasing all the possibilities of the hurdy-gurdy as a lead instrument. The song La Toupie was one of my favourite balfolk songs for a long time. I just loved that experimental fusion Drehleier (hurdy-gurdy) sound.
In March of 2018, the silence was broken again by the first concert in 3 years, and in September of that year the band made the announcement we had been waiting for: ‘We finally started with some pre-productions for a brand new ZiRP album and there is some serious progressive hurdy-gurdy fusion folk going on.’
Well, the brand new album is now out and as they promised us: there is some SERIOUS progressive hurdy-gurdy fusion folk going on!
From the first notes of 5-4-0 I am blown away by the awesome sound of -wait for it- the rhythm section! Yes, I know, not the obvious thing to start a review with, but e-v-e-r-y good band needs a good rhythm section. The bass and drums are the backbones of any band; the solid platform on which the soloists get to shine. Quite often these musicians play in the background, quite happily doing their thing as the lead vocalists, guitarists or flutists take center stage. Not with ZiRP. Both Florians are soloists on their own account and they both get plenty of opportunities to shine. The result is an amazing groove throughout every single song. Did fusion funk folk exist as a genre? It does now!
Let’s put the spotlight on ZiRP’s members one by one.
Florian Manuel Fügemann,
as I said, is a folk/rock/jazz drummer who has studied drums since the age of 8. He studied with Nils J. Fahlke at the
Robert Schumann Conservatory
in Zwickau for three years. After that, he studied pop/rock and jazz drums at the
Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber
in Dresden, gaining knowledge in styles as diverse as pop, rock, Latin, fusion, funk, and jazz. To finish his impressive resume he also studied to become a teacher for music and English in German highschools. (What a cool teacher to have!)
From his jazz music experiences, Florian developed this slick sound, this ease of playing that reminds me sooo much of former
Rob van Barschot.
Just like Rob, Florian’s drumming just sounds effortless. You can just hear him throwing out drum fill after drum fill without shedding one drop of sweat. Listening to him play, I can just envision him sitting there behind his kit, just like Rob; looking like he was eating his midday sandwich while playing one amazing break after another… and well, look at the video below. Look at him play! Do I need to say more?
And there are plenty of moments for him to shine. Listen to the wonderful groove he is laying down halfway through Zirpelloise; the effortless fills in Bourrée Inkarnation; the flowing fusion rock groove together with Florian K in Odd Bourrée; Circle Divine or Uhrovec (hello
the double bass drum in 5-4-0… I could go on and on. But I won’t. What I will say is that Florian Fügemann not only studied drums, percussion, and vocals, but before that also piano. And on Low Lights he returns to his first love again in a beautiful tribute from the whole band to his father Jürgen Fügemann. The whole story behind this song can be found
I already mentioned the other half of this amazing rhythm section: Florian Kolditz. Readers who are well connected with the Berlin music scene will know his name from the projects and bands he is involved with, as a bandmember, guest musician or session bass player. One of the most interesting bands he is involved in at the moment is the band
It is kind of a jazz Fusion band with a flamenco touch. But, as he says himself: ‘ZiRP is unique and I wouldn’t miss it in my life anymore.‘ Well, none of us would want to miss this modest but gifted bass player in ZiRP anymore. Together with Florian F, he brings the funk, the groove, and even the ’70’s disco sound to ZiRP. 5-4-0, Bourrée Inkarnation, Circle Divine, all those songs have such a wonderful flow because of his bass playing. Such an effortless groove. He marries his bass sound so wonderfully with Florian’s drums. Must be the name they share. On rhythm..our musical groove machine… F und F! But all joking aside we are not done yet. Like a true jazz bass player Florian Kolditz can play solo as well! Just listen to Mosaic, that cool bass guitar solo with the cello and horns under it. A stunning moment in this wonderful song. Or the beautiful duet he plays with Olaf and Stephan on Moon Mazurka And then there is that magnificent slapping bass guitar in Odd Bourrée and Uhrovec. Mark King, eat your heart out.
Do I need to put a spotlight on Stephan Groth? I think we all knows how well he finds his way around a hurdy-gurdy -the first CD Drehvolution and Stephan’s work with Faun are proof of that. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that on Circle Divine, this Drehleier giant is again weaving one beautiful balfolk tune after another in ZiRP’s music. Still, there are plenty of moments on this album where I’m just astonished at how beautiful it all sounds. The awesome solo at the end of Circle Divine for instance; with an effect on the hurdy-gurdy that makes it sound sooo similar to my favourite
song ‘If There Is Something‘. Or that cool acid rock effect on 5-4-0. Balfolk meets
Or the stunning prog-rock solos scattered over Odd Bourrée. Just have a look at the video below and watch the speed of his fingers, amazing! And that are only the highlights.
But Stephan has another talent that may be less known to the public: he also knows his way around the low whistle. Listen to Kaleidoskop and you might be surprised to hear that THAT is Stephan as well. It could just have well been a track on one of
With all these soloists around him, rhythm guitarist Olaf Peters’role in ZiRP is more ‘hidden’ in the background. His rhythm guitar is the glue that holds the whole band together. He is the salt and pepper of the band, the one that makes everything else taste wonderful. And in that way he is just as important to ZiRP’s sound as any of the other three bandmembers. You hear it so clearly on Circle Divine. His fine guitar chords almost disappear in the background when the music swells, but are very much in the foreground when the music calms down. For that reason alone, the title song is one of my favourite tracks on this CD. Another beautiful moment is Moon Mazurka, an instrumental ballad that gives Olaf the time and space to not only shine himself but also to play two beautiful folk duets, one with Florian Koblitz and the other with Stephan. But he is doing it all over Circle Divine, making him such an important part of the ZiRP balfolk meets fusion funk style.
I already mentioned Circle Divine as one of my favourite songs on the album, but I have a lot more. Zirpelloise with its cheerful
meets balfolk sound is one. Or Mosaic, a song combining the oh-so German sound of a horn section with progressive balfolk fusion folk. Another clear favourite is the song Odd Bourrée, a song I could listen to all day. Clearly, another prog-folk classic to be. Not to mention Uhrovec, a song that just combines everything that is beautiful about this album in one song. Or the beautiful instrumental ballad Low Lights.
What impresses me most about this album is how effortless it all sounds. I constantly have the feeling that the band is just flowing along. As if they are four Tour de France winners just cruising up Alpe d’Huez on a Sunday afternoon, chattering about while we mere mortals are gasping for air trying to keep up with them.
You can just sense that, if they wanted to, they could blow us away with mesmerizing breaks, mind-blowingly fast solos, and amazingly complicated compositions that would make every wannabe folk artist stop before even trying. But why should they? This album is made for the fun of making music, not as a vehicle to show off your skills. It is all about the pleasure of playing. The joy of listening to each other’s skills and then adding your own groove to that; emphasizing each other’s talents. So they are just cruising as if it is Sunday afternoon. Make it sound like all of it is really easy. And in that lies their true talent. Because trust me, this is NOT easy at all. This is progressive fusion balfolk funk at its very very best!
Cover art: ZiRP
Photography: Florian Manuel Fügemann
Hello music lovers! 🎼
Helen van der Jagt
This was a busy week with family gatherings, work and a visit to
Folk voor het WNF 2019
Folk voor het goede doel
(Folk for charity). In the meantime, I listened to the albums below to add them to our new radio server. In not too long, we will count down to the exciting moment when our new server will go live. Keep an eye on my posts for extra updates! For now, enjoy reading about the new albums and listening to the music! 🎶
Gwendolyn Snowdon – Free People (2019) – one track – Battle Hymn of the Free People ft. Fiona Rüggeberg 👩👩👧👦
In the beginning of June, Alex and I were at our place in the forest to recharge ourselves. The sun was shining through the trees and a message was sent to us… It was a message from Gwendolyn which contained her new song “Free People”, which she wrote herself and features Fiona (of FAUN) and Fieke van den Hurk of Dearworld Studio, where it was also recorded. Of course, we listened to this beautiful song! We are looking forward to more of these beauties! The ‘Warrior Women Choir’ in the song consists of talented musicians like
Lies Sommer, Coca Roman Music, Hester de Boer, Abigail Bakker, Sanne van Gend, Meidi Goh and Rikke Linssen!
I have no album to show you, but I will show you the cover, photo made by Anouk Pross Photography! 👨👨👧👦
Philip Steenbergen – Prelude (2019) 🎸
A couple of weeks ago, Philip also send us a message regarding his new album. And…. we listened to it and we were stunned! It’s beautiful! Last weekend we went to Folk voor het WNF 2019, where Philip was performing too. He played a solo show with songs of his new album and he played a set with his band Withershins. Of course, we brought his new album home and advise you to listen to these magical guitar sounds! We can’t play every song on CeltCast, but there are five songs that definitely fit our format. 😍
Triakel – Handelser I Nord (2019) 🗻
Last week I told you that we have news about Triakel! So yes, here is their new album! It’s beautiful Swedish folk music, completely fitting our format. The album has a booklet with 48 (!) pages with lyrics, archive material (old photographs) and background stories about the songs. A beautiful album to have and to listen to! 🥰
FAUN – Faun and the Pagan Folk Festival – Live (2008) 🍃
This is an older live album of our friends of Faun. Because it’s a live album, it was difficult to find the songs we can play on our radio, but we can play half. On this CD, you can hear ‘Sieben’ and ‘IN GOWAN RING‘ too. The booklet has 40 (!) pages with photos, lyrics and background information. This album brings the real concert experience! 🤩
– Tandem (2006) 👣
This album of Naragonia is beautiful for our balfolk friends. Lovely music for dancing (Scottish, Tricot, Waltz, Circles, Mazurka) and of course to listen to! The booklet contains a description of the songs in Dutch, English and French! 💃
Rapalje Celtic Folk Music – Clubs (2012) ♣️♥️
Here they are again, our Dutchmen of Rapalje! This album is one of a series: Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs. Seven tracks and seven beauties which all will be played for you! ♠️♦️
Versengold – In Namen des Folkes (2012) ⚔️
One of my favourite albums from Germany! The music is diverse and the violin players are amazing! I love the songs ‘Sturmtanz’, an instrumental track, and ‘Vom Zauber des Wildfräuleins’ which, like many other tracks on this CD, contains quite a narrative. 📖
Celtic Myst – The Christmas Collection (2003) 🎄
A compilation album of diverse artists, all with beautiful Christmas songs. We played it during the holidays and at the end of next year, you will hear them on our radio. But first, we have to start with 2020 and enjoy the lengthening of the days before the dark days before Christmas will be upon us again. ☃️
We’re very happy that these beautiful CD’s have been processed: ❤️
Gwendolyn Snowdon – Free People (2019) – one track
Philip Xander – Prelude (2019)
Triakel – Handelser I Nord (2019)
Faun – Faun and the Pagan Folk Festival – Live (2008)
Naragonia – Tandem (2006)
Rapalje – Clubs (2012)
Versengold – In Namen des Folkes (2012)
Celtic Myst – The Christmas Collection (2003)
It’s unimaginable, but it is already Monday and again we have 12 beautiful albums for you to show. So… soon to be heard on our renewed radio station!
We start with a few new albums: during
we acquired no less than three albums of
The Trouble Notes
from Berlin. I’m going to jump on only hearing their name! What a talented violin player
is, what a lot of energy! On a tough day, this music immediately makes you smile again! Love it! <3
Friendly Folk Promotion
gave us another album made in this year, called “Welcome Autumn” from the band
. A folk-rock band from the Ohio Valley. Pirates, this one is for you! 🦜
Yesterday, Hans Elzinga had his album release party in Leiden (NL) for his CD Introspective. An album that guarantees a very relaxing afternoon on the couch with, of course, incense (name of the first song) on. Not as much an album with pure folk music, more world music, recorded at
by Fieke van der Hurk. 🧘♀️
Last week the Witchcraft (2018) album of
Trobar de Morte
fell on the CeltCast doormat … Wow, I am very impressed by this album! There is no “best” song. The entire album is one beautiful story, like watching a movie with your eyes closed. I’m in love! <3
We obtained the CanzonettaTedesca album (
in Selb, last September. With this album we go back to the German Middle Ages. During this festival we also made live streams of this band. If you want, you can look back these streams by checking our videos. Offline material will follow later on YouTube.
And then we also show seven older ones. All beauties with their own style. The Moon and the Nightspirit copy even is a double album! 😍