I will admit that when I read Faun’s new album, Von den Elben, included remakes and covers, coupled with a signing to Universal Records, nervousness crept in. After undergoing line-up changes and the signing of a new record deal, this was always going to be a sceptical listen. I have always loved the raw and intense energy of Faun‘s trademark elements: buzzing trompettes, grinding drones and chanter-blasting melodies supported by an array of eclectic beats and, best of all, the powerful and ever interchanging male/female vocals. Is this all to be compromised?
There aren’t many bands on the commercial market that boast such a repertoire of complex medieval instruments and voicing without the overuse of technology or the cover of thrash guitars. The idea of Faun and covers was my least concern. Faun has never demolished a cover track, and in most cases, has completely restored them. The previous album, Eden 2011, saw the reinvention of the “Market Song”, bringing David Andersons’s 1830 story of Copshawholme Fair back to life while attracting a new generation of listeners in the process. Their consistent use of historical adaptations and an array of languages take the listener on a complex musical and nostalgic journey. With Von den Elben, I notice immediately that all tracks are titled in German which would point to a more streamlined album than we are traditionally used to.
From the start with “Mit dem Wind” and “Diese Kalte Nacht”, the Faun elements are ever-present and powerful, but if you do your best to block them out, a German pop singer is all that is left in similar fashion to a possible entry to Eurovision.
“Tanz mit mir” gets your feet stomping from the start. The simple tune that a Morris Side could keep up with effectively compliments the rhythm. The entrance of exchanging raw female/male vocals is catchy and comes with a beer hall vibe. Whilst I’m up and about with my sticks and hankies, I notice “Andro II” on the track list. Commencing with prolonged haunting chants, I almost fall into a trance, but then the melodically complex and balanced Breton folk dance sets off and I ditch my props for a circle routine.
Take the electric guitars, bass and harsh vocals from Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie, and you essentially have Faun. With inspiration from Eluveitie’s “Omnos” on the Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion album comes “Schrei es in die Winde”; I had to go back and listen to Eluveitie’s original to find the gaps. The production of this track alone demonstrates Faun’s uncompromising desire to succeed in their realm of medieval / Pagan folk and, above all else, to credit their Swiss friends.
The signing to Universal Records and subsequent commercial success is evident with their first European chart entries and at the time of this article, the five most popular tracks on their Spotify stream are all from Von den Elben.
Did I mention my nervousness at the start? Success doesn’t always breed negativity. In this case it has bred polished, refined music and a taste of what is yet to come from Faun. With two entries from renowned folk metal bands–Eric Fish (Subway to Sally) plays on the uplifting “Minne Duett” and àpropos to Chrigel Glazmann (Eluveitie) for the aforementioned “Omnos”-lyric inspired “Schrei es in die Winde”–there could be further inclusions on the horizon. With their success, Von dem Elben shows us just how far Faun have come as they continue to surprise us with their creativity and well thought out albums.
01) Mit dem Wind
02) Diese Kalte Nacht
03) Von den Elben
04) Tanz mit mir
05) Schrei es in die Winde
06) Wilde Rose
07) Wenn wir uns Wiedersehen
08) Bring mich Nach Haus
09) Welche Sprache Spricht dein Herz
10) Andro II
11) Minne Duett
12) Thymian & Rosmarin
13) Warte auf mich