Niemandsvater is yet another impressive new artist from the burgeoning Germanic neofolk scene whom are making their label debut on Lichterklang and have a distinct sense of European literary influence behind their creations. This project consists of the duo of Christoph Lotte and J. Hayn, the latter of which also handled the visuals for the release. In addition, two others took part in what we’re assuming was strictly a session role in Niklas Schäpsmeier and Sven Luhmann. The noted literary references come straight from the band’s very foundation with William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” being the inspiration behind its very formation — an inspiration that led to the creation of 16 songs that were compiled digitally as a tribute to Blake and are available on the band’s soundcloud. None of those songs made it onto this release, however, but the lasting impact that Blake has left on their aesthetic as a complete entity is undeniable. The band’s own name, “Niemandsvater”, roughly translates to “No Man’s Father” and, besides being a lingual interpretation on his poem “To Nobodaddy”, seems to be a take on Blake’s Gnostic vision of God — a vision that separates the idea of humanity as being created in God’s image — instead putting the essence of God in everything — and replaces him with everything that god is not: Urizen, the demiurge. Of course, I suspect that this isn’t the only understanding to be had about the inspirations behind Niemandsvater, but the spiritual atmosphere surrounding the project cannot be overlooked
The music of Niemandsvater is strikingly humble. The first thing that most neofolk fans will notice is the complete lack of acoustic guitar; a sound that partially removes them from the genre and pushes them towards the realm of neoclassical. That said, they have a great deal in common with their German brethren in Sagittarius in all of their piano and wood flute-laden glories, as well as sparse moments of Eastern melodic progressions as can be heard in the music of Wreathes. Many of their tracks are also minimal and traditional enough to force the listener to reminisce on their label-mates in Der Tod und das Mädchen as well. In this regard, the album title “Zeitenlos”, which loosely translates into “Timeless” is well placed. Indeed, the music of Niemandsvater is timeless, but not only in terms of its beautiful, withdrawn, and often haunting compositions. No, their philosophies also celebrate such a timeless nature, with lyrics in the title track “Zeitenlos” that speak of a figure who journeys amongst the graves of complex human emotions, seeing their deterioration, only to, at the end of his long journey, face himself amongst nameless graves.
Songs of glory, the celestial heavens, and wisdom dot the inner spirit that is Zeitenlos. The release itself has a decidedly Greek appeal, not only through the imagery captured on the album’s artwork, but also through tracks like “Et in Arcadia Ego” which speaks of a man whom visits a beautiful land and yearns for a return to it, only to wait too long. In the end, the beauty of the land has aged with him and he encounters suffering upon his return, eventually meeting his fate, leaving his bones to decorate the city. “Sturmzeit” is another interesting track with antique imagery and implications for modern life. It is a song that, through a literal interpretation, is a narrative on an era of emptiness — void of adventure, courage, color and season. Taken as an interpretation placed on contemporary living, however, it is a familiar narrative on how humanity has lost the proverbial thunder of existence in favor of the monotony of capitalism and consumerism. It is an era of predictability born out of the ancestral legacy of survival, mystery, and the inescapable fervor of life in the centuries and millenia prior to our industrialized false comfort today.
These ancient subjects and themes tie well into the music of Zeitenlos as they incorporate a style that is sophisticated but still, in a way, archaic and natural. Modest elements of percussive bombast texture subtle and sparse segments of the project’s music, but this is as far as you can get from a martial atmosphere. Niemandsvater have an ear for melody and timbre, and while their sound is sometimes left sounding hollow because of the lack of bass-end instrumentation, they have certainly made a strong impression with their debut. In this respect, it should also be noted that Lichterklang continues to impress and are seemingly going to great lengths to fill the void that exists where there is a wealth of Germanic neofolk that needs support, but not enough serious backing to bring it to the world.
01) Echo I
02) Das Zeitenlos
03) Der Tanzende Stern
04) Das Gewand
07) Et in Arcadia Ego
09) Salvator Mundi
10) Echo II