A couple of months ago I saw a post by
on her Facebook page. In that post, she mentioned a gift from Germany: a CD had arrived with a personal letter attached to it. She continued by saying:
-‘Of course, I started listening and was immediately taken into a majestic forest. It was so clear that her creation came from a very magical place. This gifted goddess, nature lover, teacher, and dreamer is called Angelika Abend. She took an insanely brave step to release her own work straight from her soul!’
Needless to say I was instantly intrigued and looked up this artist myself on Spotify. And just as Jyoti I was touched, even though I was listening to the album on a crappy mobile phone speaker while at work. So that evening I contacted Angelika Abend aka Ivy Leaves and within days a small package arrived. In it was Year One, the debut album of Angelika, with it a personal letter attached:
-I hope the music will bring you relaxation, thoughtful moments. energetic vibes and natural satisfaction. Every song comes from the heart. Best wishes and green pagan vibes. Angelika Abend/Ivy Leaves.’
Well, dear Angelika, it did! This is exactly what Year One is: A meditative, sincere and ‘happy’ instrumental pagan folk CD. Straight from Angelika’s heart.
So who is
? Well, on her Facebook page she describes herself as a nature lover, musician, teacher, and dreamer. Going through her posts I discovered she is indeed a school teacher and a nature-loving pagan as well. Inspired by artists like
she started writing music on harp, several types of flutes, hammered dulcimer, piano and harmonium.
Angelika Abend: -‘ In January 2020 that creativity was given a huge boost when I started working with
as a producer. He did the recording, mixing and mastering of the final album. Year One was recorded in July 2020 in a cozy wooden recording studio. It was followed by several listening sessions in October.’
And then on the 18th of May 2021 Year One was officially released. As a ‘musical interpretation of the repetitive cycle of life. With all its brightness and all its darkness.’ The album
Listening to the first song Stone Cold a couple of words pop up: ‘majestic, calming, happy, positive and serene’. I think those words quite nicely sum up Angelika’s music in general. As Angelika herself told on different occasions that she was influenced by bands like OMNIA and Waldkauz, and the music itself is indeed flute and harp oriented pagan folk you could think this album to be a cross-over of those two bands. But no it is not. Year One has a very own unique sound. It actually leans more towards the orchestral sound of Alvenrad, the first album of
but with a refreshing native American flute feel over it. Angelika used a whole range of traditional flutes while recording Year One, including one of my favourite wind instruments: a fujara (Angelika: -‘To be precise a hybrid overtone bass fujara’). She also uses an overtone flute in A, reedpipe, wooden whistles, a raven spirit flute and a Kiowa love flute to create that feel. Don’t expect the fast soloistic way of playing we know from OMNIA’s Steve Sic. No, she uses the flutes as calm, soothing voices. Think of a pagan folk version of
(A famous Native American flute artist from Lakota/Irish decent, well known as the guest singer and soloist on Creek Mary’s Blood by
That calming, meditative effect is enhanced by the use the hammered dulcimer and the harp as accompanying instruments.
The third layer of Ivy Leaves music, the ambient part, partly comes from the clever recording Adrian Magler did. He gives Ivy Leaves a sound that comes really close to a band like Sacred Spirit. I especially noticed this, in the percussion. So much so that I initially thought it was programmed, but Angelika assured me that most of them are real percussion instruments, so my compliments to Adrian, as the sound really works. It gives the music of Angelika its heartbeat, its pulse. In the second song, Sleepy Lake, we hear that pulse for the first time. It is still a lovely gentle instrumental ballad, hovering somewhere between ambient pagan folk and new age music. But songs like: Satyr Endeavour, Haily Rain or Waiting For You To Decide all have a really nice build-up from gentle ballads to upbeat ambient dance songs. Satyr Endeavour for instance is quite a catchy song, with a cool dark base melody supporting it. Haily Rain is another really catchy song, in this case, led by the harp. Another favourite of mine is the song Waiting For You To Decide. Starting off as a beautiful fragile ‘ballet’ between harp and flute, it gradually evolves into a full-on dance ballad. One of my highlights on this album.
Music, flowing with the season
I also need to compliment Angelika on the sequence of songs. The clever bit is that at this point of the album the colour and atmosphere of the music changes.
Combining an acoustic guitar with the harp already gives the intro of Festival Song a different flavour, but it is halfway through the song that a surprising appearance of didgeridoo and percussion and an increase in tempo really pushes the music into a cool pagan folk dance direction. It sounds as if Mich Rozek and Luka Aubri were invited in the studio for a small jam session. The lighter feel from the start of this album returns one more time with the song Always Keep That Feeling, (Angelika’s homage to OMNIA’s Steve and Jenny), but from that moment on the feel of Year One returns to being a bit darker, a bit more autumny so to say. A deliberate choice as Angelika explained to me after she first read the review:
-‘The sequence of songs is also designed to be coherent with the months and seasons of the year. Stone Cold represents January, Sleepy Lake is February and so on. My approach was to not only capture the moods of the different natural states but also combine them with emotional situations and a holistic personal story. All this within the course of one year, represented by the 12 songs.’Apocalooper Flute reminds me a bit of
music, most likely because of the cool didge vibe and the low hoarse sound of the bass overtone flute dancing over it. It is that change in feel, that change in colour of the music that makes Year One such a catchy album from beginning to end.
In the last three songs: Falling leaves, Where Do We Go When It’s Dark Outside and Rebirth, you can hear the influence Jyoti Verhoeff has had on Angelika’s music. It is now much more piano orientated and the general feel is way more in the direction of Jyoti’s last album The Sky Of You or the OMNIA songs Wheel Of Time and Sing For Love.
Stories of personal development
Now that I mention this ‘darker edge’, I found an interesting contradiction between Angelika’s music and the explanations in the booklet accompanying the CD. Normally I tend to hear the things artists write about in the songs themselves. With Angelika, most of the time I don’t. The texts in the booklet are deep, dark, slightly gothic even in feel. Yet I can only describe her music as positive and happy. I think that comes from who Angelika is. although I don’t know her personally. Reading her posts on Facebook and seeing the pictures she uploaded, she seems a happy, positive person. A dreamer maybe, a thinker as well, but in her heart positive and good. And you hear that back in her music. I know the project is called Ivy Leaves, but it is so clearly Angelika’s heart and soul that went into all of it, that I find it really hard not to name her as the artist all the time.
Angelika: ‘-If you look at the texts as a whole you might find that they represent a story of personal development and becoming. A deep fall is followed by the strive to get back up again, live life, find the right path, fight the struggle and in the end, find inner peace within oneself.’
All in all, I’m loving Year One. It is a charming debut, with an artist clearly finding her own voice within the pagan folk genre. Lovely Ambient pagan folk with a good dose of Native American new age spirituality. Congratulations on this lovely debut Angelika. What a way to start the new year!
Album cover: Angelika Abend, Adrian Magler
Pictures: Angelika Abend
New Wave Paganfolk! Waldkauz Style!
Cliff de Booy
Mythos, the second album by the German pagan folk band
made a huge impact on me when I
it a couple of years ago. It still is one of my favourite pagan folk albums ever! Since then I saw many a show of these beautiful souls, and loved them even more because of it. So it was with high expectations I put Labyrinth in my CD player. And???? Well, they delivered! Well, they delivered! I still find myself spontaneously humming songs from Labyrinth, even weeks after finishing my review. And I will probably do so for many more months to come, I am quite sure of that!
But Waldkauz didn’t do it the easy way. They could have just made a Mythos part 2 and harvest on the success of that album. But they choose not to. Labyrinth shows a band developing themselves; a band showing an open-minded approach to their music; adding new elements into their sound; making them a truly unique band.
When you Google Waldkauz you will see that they open their website with: ‘Waldkauz – new Wave Paganfolk’. So what does new wave paganfolk sound like? Well full of energy and extremely danceable! I can tell you that much. But you want to know more? Well you can! The whole story is just one click away. Follow
and dance into the world of New Wave Paganfolk! Im Waldkauz stil selbstverstandlich!
Waldkauz – Labyrinth (2021) review
Cliff de Booy
When I think of
I always think of Freundshaft und Lebensfreude (friendship and enjoyment of life). I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Waldkauz play live in several different line-ups and every change felt like there were more friends added to the musical family, and their music always represented that positive feel. It does again on the new album Labyrinth. So what changed in the Waldkauz tribe? Let’s pick up the story with the release of Mythos. At that time bass player Andi Douwt was added to the live band, giving the live performances a lot more power and energy. After Gina Klause decided to step away from the spotlight two of the
girls, Fanny Herbst (Celtic harp, vocals) and Fabi Kirschke (Hurdy Gurdy, flutes, vocals) stepped in to help out, enriching the live show with their positive energy and musical talents. And Waldkauz kept inviting more and more friends to the family with Adriana Borger (Hurdy Gurdy) joining their live band as a stand-in for Fabi. All who were there will definitely remember the 2019
performances with both Fabi and Adriana on stage. The energy was radiating from the stage.
In the background, Nina, Niklas, Peter, and Andi (who by now had officially joined the band), were already jamming with the next potential members of the Waldkauz family and in December 2019 it was announced that Alana Bennett (Celtic harp, hurdy Gurdy, violin, vocals) and Diana Koper (vocals) would join the band. With that line-up the band returned to the studio in the summer of 2020 and together with
)- who also worked with
to name a few- they recorded Labyrinth. And it is that album that is lying in front of me right now.
Now with the new line-up, Waldkauz also changed their logo, from the more stylistic, fluid old one to a more dark, tribal logo. So I was kinda expecting a more tribal sound as well. Something in the direction of Brisinga maybe? Or even
Well, I can tell you the band tricked me. Big time actually. They were always one of the most melodic pagan folk bands out there, equalled only by Faun, and they went up a notch on Labyrinth. The main change is in the rhythm section. Where on Mythos Peter took care of the rhythm alone, using the typical tribal drum sound, leaning heavily on the deep tom sound almost all pagan folk bands share, the band now has more options with bass player Andi joining the rhythm section. It makes Peter switch to the more ‘standard way of drumming we know from regular pop bands, more focused on the snare drum, giving the band a much more pop-folk sound. A bit English, I would say. Is that a bad thing? Hell no. After my initial surprise, I’ve come to love the album. Especially those first 3 opening songs Walking The Labyrinth, Beltane, and Schwingen where you hear that new sound best. The band is on fire on those tracks. New additions Diana and Alana jump out straight away on Walking the Labyrinth. Alana has written an infectious earworm of a hurdy-gurdy hook if I ever heard one, the song is fast, full of energy and power, so MUCH power. I called it pop-folk a minute ago but is is actually way more energetic than that. You could almost call it pagan rock. But it’s not that either. Waldkauz’s sound on Labyrinth is powerful, danceable, but clean. It doesn’t have the distorted sound you would associate with a rock band. No, the band just wants your listening experience to turn into a party. A huge party I can tell you. I dare everybody to try and stay seated while listening to Labyrinth. No? Didn’t work? Told you so! I can’t name a band that comes close to Waldkauz’s sound at this point. The question: is do I need to? The answer is NO! Waldkauz sounds just like Waldkauz! And that should be enough. A grooving, moving pagan folk dance machine! I can NOT sit still listening to songs like Walking The Labyrinth, Beltane, Epane, Dance Macabre or Schwingen. Just listen to that cool
-like hurdy-gurdy hook (with an even cooler call-and-response section in there); the melodious bass lines Andi is throwing out; the groove he and Peter create together, the cool hooks and catchy solo’s and melodie lines Nina, Alana, Niklas, and yes even, Andi and Peter throw around as if it were the easiest thing in the world. The years of touring and performing made this band grow into a true festival headliner.
Schwingen is a second song with that strong folk-rock/dance feel. A power balled that I just adore. Strong, STRONG drum/bass guitar sound, (thank you, Alex Schulz, for capturing that jawdropping rhythm section) powerful vocals, I love the break, I love the drive in this song, I love the acoustic bouzouki start, and then that alto recorder weaving it’s magic all through the song. WOW! By far my personal favourite on Labyrinth. And then I haven’t even mentioned Beltane yet. Why? Well besides an awesome sound Waldkauz also gained two tremendous voices with Alana and Diana. And Beltane is the best song to focus on that. It starts with Nina and Diana harmonizing together, often accompanied by Alana on backing vocals, and they just rock it. Those voices fit sooo well together. Diana has a beautiful clear and warm alto, and Nina’s voice, as we know, circles around the same region. Together they sound awesome. You can hear it on Beltane, on Schwingen and on many more songs…So much so that they even recorded an a-capella poem with the last song Des Dichters Segen. Well, I call it a blessing for my ears
After this furious start, I needed a moment to catch my breath and the band gives me that with the ballad He Missed The Stars, featuring the lovely warm vocals of Niklas. This song soon flows into a beautiful duet between Niklas and Nina, accompanied by Alana on Celtic harp. I’m already looking forward to hearing this live on stage. All the songs actually. They all already sound great on CD, but I think this album will rock even more in a live setting. I can’t wait.
Reading the lyrics and liner notes, I feel there are two main themes flowing through Labyrinth that really belong together: A longing for freedom, especially freedom of the mind, and the search for personal growth. The Labyrinth in a way is a symbol of life, for all the twists and tails you’ll find on your path while you travel the road of life. It also represents Waldkauz’s positive view of it. It tells us that no matter what happens there is a way, and quite often freedom of mind is reached when you take the longer, harder road. I love the way the songs are chosen to represent that road. From the start of your travels in Walking The Labyrinth to finding your place in Home.
Much thought went into that. Much thought also went into where to put which style of pagan folk on the album. Musically the CD is just as much a journey as are the themes and lyrics of the various songs.
As I said: adding the new band members gave the band more options. After the
-like ballad He Missed The Stars we get Bayushki Bayu which with its medieval-sounding, waltz-like theme kinda reminds me of
. even though it is is an adaptation of a Russian lullaby. Epane is a lovely dance song that would have the masses going again at any concert. Rastaban meets Zirp, that might be the best description. Kein Rechter Weg is the darkest song on Labyrinth. As Niklas explained to us:’Kein Rechter Weg is explicitly an anti-fascist song against the use of ‘Norse’ culture by right wing groups and neo-nazis.’ A message I fully support. It is also the most tribal song on this album. After the ‘dark’ and strong message of Kein Rechter Weg, things lighten up again with Dance Macabre. Did I just say lighten up? While it is the song of death? Yes, for me the message is clear again. Since we all are gonna die anyway, why not make a party out of it. And a party this song is. A full-on pagan folk party!! That is the cool thing about this album. Waldkauz has kept all the cool elements that made them such an awesome band, to begin with. The strong harmonies, the feel-good vibes, their melodic qualities, their musicality, and their pagan message! They just added the energy of good pop-rock to the mix, and I for one love that they did that. Yes, it took me a moment to adjust. It was not what I expected, but it gives their third album a freshness that is infectious. So well done for growing, for daring to walk the labyrinth. It gave us a stunning album and a great new sound. The Waldkauz sound!
And with that, to my own surprise, I suddenly find myself at the end of the review. I’ll leave it to you dear reader to discover gems like Far Vel (Waldkauz meets Brisinga meets Nordic folk, with a guest appearance of Faber Horbach of
), or the lovely a-capella sung poem Des Dichters Segen featuring all four voices of Waldkauz blending beautifully together. But there is still one song I want to mention and it is called Home. It is a lovely, mostly instrumental, power ballad, slightly jazzy, as if
Dan Ar Braz
in the Waldkauz studio, and last but not least it features
This allows me a little sidenote. In 2019 Andi released a solo album called Elegy. It contains really laid-back, improvised bass guitar soundscapes with a slight easy listening jazzy feel to them. It’s an album that my girlfriend and I love, but it is also too far off from the acoustic folk genre to be eligible for a CeltCast review. I am so happy that Waldkauz allowed Andi to do a bit of that style of bass playing on Home. It means I can finally mention his solo work here. If you like his improvisation in Home than go check out
too. And so we end where I started. Waldkauz’s music stands for two words: Lebensfreude, and Freundschaft. That is what makes this band so very special. That, and heaps, HEAPS of talent!
cover illustration: Joan Llopis Doménech
Album Design:Benjamin Urban (HYGIN GRAPHIX)
Picture: Samantha Evans: Balm and Bitterness
Trobar de Morte – The Book Of Shadows (2020)
Cliff de Booy
In these odd times we are living in, it is good to know that some things just don’t change. The first spring sun still heralds the start of the year, the morning chorus of birds still greets us when we wake up, the evening fire still warms our bones and the sound of
Trobar de Morte
still soothes our souls, no matter if you put on their first record Nocturnal Dance Of The Dragonfly or their latest one called The Book Of Shadows. It feels really reassuring to hear that typical Trobar de Morte sound ringing in my headphones. Those layered, slightly melancholic vocals of lady Morte, those calming, wall-to-wall ambient pagan folk melodies, those mythical lyrics filling the room with a peaceful ease that only this Spanish band has mastered. Once inspired by
Dead Can Dance,
Trobar de Morte are now a pagan folk phenomenon in their own right, with their very own unique sound and I love them for that. The intro Introilus Libris Tenebris, and songs like Mandragora Autumnalis, Melusine Cantus or Plenilunio are all a joy of recognition. Trobar de Morte have a new album out and after just a few notes I feel right at home. It seems nothing has changed at all, with an emphasis on seems!
But, as always, I’m getting way ahead of myself now. So let’s ‘open’ The Book of Shadows and dive into the unique world of Trobar de Morte once more.
the Intro, Introitus Libris Tenebris, is all you’ve come to expect from Trobar de Morte. Impressive ambient pagan folk soundscapes that could well work as a film score for any self-respecting epic fantasy movie. Be it Lord of the Rings, Elfquest, Journey to the Center of the Earth, or the Dark Crystal, they could all do with a touch of Trobar de Morte magic. Come to think of it, this intro indeed feels like you are gliding into something deep and mysterious. Into a portal deep down into the center of the earth. As if you walk down into a dark cave, torches casting long shadows over the crystal walls, the echoes of your footsteps ringing loudly through your ears, betraying every gentle step you take. The silence loud and eerie, the atmosphere tense as if you could cut it with a knife. At the end of it, a cave, beautiful, grand, torch-lit, with stalactites in all shapes and colours. The whole sight of it is breathtaking. Unearthly. Elflike. And in the middle of it, floating above an enchanted lake – its water reflecting the orange colour of the torches burning in all corners of this fast cavern- you’ll find the Book of Shadows hidden deep inside this secret entrance to Middle Earth. (This is what happens when your imagination meets Trobar’s music, it will drift off to wherever it wants to lead you and I happily will let it.)
The second song, Sacrifice, continues with this same enchanting feel. At the start of the song, the sound of water droplets seems to follow you closely as whispered voices lure you deeper into this mysterious world. The song itself seems to be Middle Eastern (Persian perhaps), and has a warm feel to it. The layered vocals, as always, are impressive. The music, as always, feels like a soothing blanket that you instantly want to snuggle in. The dramatic arrangements of the music, as always, seem to lure you away into those dark shadows of comfort only Lady Morte can provide. Yes, this is Trobar at is very, very best. A solid musical mix of
and Dead Can Dance, and I am preparing myself for a lovely journey into familiar musical grounds.
Well, the musical journey is indeed lovely, but not into those familiar grounds I was expecting. On the contrary! The next song, The Unquiet Grave sounds way more open, much more Celtic than I am used from Trobar de Morte. It is far more towards Cesair’s epic folk sound than the usual carpet-like Dead Can Dance style I am used to hearing from Lady Morte. Looking at the booklet, The Unquiet Grave is credited as a traditional English folk song and indeed it shares its DNA with another English classic: Over The Hills And Far Away. So definitely NOT what I was expecting! When Uri Bokskog throws in a lovely Celtic tin whistle solo, the sound seemingly flowing in from the distant fields of Ireland, my surprise is complete.
Anxiously I await the start of Mandragora Autumnalis: will it be a continuation of this ‘new’ Celtic sound? Yes, it is! A single harp melody follows you as you walk through a thick and ancient forest. There is the sound of birds, both ancient and exotic, eerie and muffled, dampened by the mist of the forest. It sets the mood perfectly for what is to come. As always Oscar David (Axstudio, responsible for the mix and mastering) and Lady Morte (co-producer) managed to put down an awesome, unique sound. The drums are dark and spiritual, drawing you deep into ancient woods. Woods that are created in your imagination, born out of the tantalizing music of Trobar de Morte It’s the green forests hidden deep within the pages of The Book of Shadows. Right there, between the dark shadows of the immaculate handwriting that covers the pages of this ancient book of wisdom. It is filled with the power of long-forgotten druids, their spells luring you in. This, dear friends, is powerful magic. The Mandragora is calling you in, deeper and deeper, do you dare and follow its call?
Going into the fifth song, Fuga Maleficis, I’m starting to understand what is so different about Trobar’s sound on this album. The music is still layered, it is still created by stacking melody upon melody, but where on previous albums the layers were mostly glued together with keyboard carpets and voice effects, in this case, the layers are filled in with the instruments themselves, which gives the overall sound more space to breathe. It gives the individual instruments more
room to fill, making you hear much more of the nuances played by the musicians than you normally would. Even on Fuga Maleficis, – which is a typical grand Trobar de Morte song with all those multi-layered choir vocals and magnificent orchestral arrangements of strings, percussion, and folk instruments- you can hear ALL the subtle details as well. You can easily hear the cheerful tin whistle solo playing around the Celtic choir for instance. Or the viola sound quickly ‘rushing’ away into the shadow of the woods, as it finds itself captured in a musical break, just seconds before the enchanting power of lady Morte’s vocals is unleashed again. It are two small details hidden within an impressive orchestra of sound, but it are those details take make this CD extra special.
The same goes for the vocals. On this album Oscar and Lady Morte managed to make it sound like a true, full-on, mighty impressive choir. What a sound. What a stunning song this is. Possibly my favourite one on this album. This more open natural sound also makes The Book of Shadows sound rather cheerful and positive despite its dark title. It is almost in contrast with its title actually. Melusine Cantus is another good example of this. Yes, it is solemn in style, the Latin texts even enhance the spiritual feel of the song, but the open, ‘natural’ sound of the song gives it a pleasant feel. We celebrate the power of the Book of Shadows on this album, we do not fear it. We hear the music through the ears of the Druids and Wiccans of this world, past and present. Those who are one with nature, not in fear of them as some people would be.
Pleninulio sounds like a reprise of Sister Of The Night (found on the 2018 album Witchcraft) and is another one of my highlights on this great album. I loved the song in its original form, dark and daunting. I also love it in this more open, instrumental, Persian reprise. Hearing all those details in the music is a treat. The percussion (well done throughout the whole CD); the grand string arrangements; the subtle organ-like keyboard support; the beautiful cello/ viola solo starting around 50 seconds, answered by the whole string section; the enchanting vocal solo of lady Morte; the hurdy-gurdy seemingly calling from the edge of the woods; and the Spanish sounding guitar solo taking you to a musical version of Alhambra, holding its own against a virtual castle wall of orchestral sound. This is one of the best songs Trobar de Morte ever recorded. But not the only wonderful song on The Book of Shadows. Just listen to Land of Sorcery, how positive that feels, what an enchanting mix between Celtic folk and spiritual pagan folk it is. Listen to Luna Cornula and the dark male vocals of Uri catching me off guard yet again. Darn, this is all SOOO good!!!
My conclusion can be short and sweet. I love the pagan folk/Dead Can Dance sound Trobar de Morte have created over the years. I would not have minded another album in that style, not at all. But I ADORE this version of their music, this open orchestral version of lady Morte’s unique style. Trobar de Morte have recorded another musical masterpiece. One that will spread joy and positivity as much as it will spread awe amongst their fans, including myself. A positivity that is much needed in these odd times, and I thank Trobar de Morte for that, with all my heart!
cover art:artdrómeda photography
Pictures: Cliff de Booy
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.