Tobias Franke returns, reprising the role that he played in 2008′s Heimatfolk release schedule and offering up his third record overall with “Kraftort”. We unfortunately didn’t get to hear “Heiliger Wald” which was released on Tobias’ own label Kraftplatz Records, but “Kraftort” appears to be a necessary and expected continuation of the work that he put forth on the debut album “Urdarbrunnen”. It should immediately be mentioned that “Kraftort” was released three years ago in 2009 and, as such, it should also be mentioned that Tobias has already released a new album last year in “Die Große Göttin”, again on Kraftplatz Records. Despite this exceptionally short career, Falkenstein has managed to turn many heads in the realm of neofolk because of the imagery that he is able to create of the natural world during the era of aboriginal Europe, especially in concern to the Germanic landscape and the North European Plain. This is Neofolk that fits right in comfortably with other Romantic Germanic artists of the same caliber, especially in the minimal, mostly guitar and vocal sense though even comparisons to the likes of Blood & Sand and Neutral would ultimately not describe the music of Falkenstein.
In truth, Falkenstein stands out from these other projects for no other reason than his music, almost purposely, shies away from the dark side of folk and into a light-hearted compositional structure that displays as much spirit as it does excellent musicianship. As with the implications of the last track title, “Summer”, there is nothing cold in Falkenstein’s breed of Neofolk — quite the opposite in fact. “Kraftort” breathes of a warmth that is, at least for the first part of the album, characteristic in sound of the lighter side of the guitar performance of Sangre de Muerdago while bringing about the melodic (especially in terms of the flute performance) side of “The Courage of Others” era Midlake, obviously with a sharper Euro-folk progression. Tracks like “Trudenritt” can also start out in a fairly typical Backworld-like chord progression though there is usually an emphasis on the performance as Tobias seems to take pride on both the vocal accentuation of his lyrics and the subtle changes in guitar composition. There is a sparse impressive and progressive ‘jam out’ section as well in a solo that appears towards the end of “Die letzte Reise”. This of course leads into the slightly more atmospheric “Am Ende wird Anfang sein” with its closing flowing melodies.
Medieval elements populate the compositions sparingly as well, being specifically apparent in the title track “Kraftort”. The title translation into “Place of Power” combined with the album artwork seems to hint at both a natural and an ancestral vision — implying both poetic visions of folklore and a personal inspiration by the land. “Poetic” visions is quite an obvious hint at the lyrical value of the album as well as it feels natural that Tobias has been influenced by prominent Germanic poets with tracks like “König in Thule” featuring lyrics taken directly from a work of nearly the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Most prominent of the influences on Tobias’ part however is the very basic spiritual element of the Germanic heathen: nature. The natural world surrounding us, void of human form, constructing the ‘place of power’ as a primal, ancient truth and a place of inspiration for the human mind. In that respect, if there’s one thing that “Kraftort” celebrates in that way of thinking through the growing season and the Summer months under the buck and sturgeon moons, it’s life itself.
01) Die alte Norne
03) Die letzte Reise
04) Am Ende wird Anfang sein
07) Ewiger Wald
09) König von Thule