There is not much that can be said about Michael Moynihan that hasn’t already been said. One cannot forget the amount of effort he has put into publishing and writing about various topics ranging from black metal with the infamous Lord of Chaos, Occultism in the Third Reich with The Secret King, his work with Traditionalism and Heathenism in his very well-written and researched journal Tyr, and even publishing controversial authors such as James Mason. He is probably most well-known for his music project with Robert Ferbrache and his partner Annabel, Blood Axis, which started as something of a post-industrial/martial act with the now-legendary album The Gospel of Inhumanity. The project, some fifteen years since the release of The Gospel of Inhumanity, has now moved towards more of a folk direction with the album Born Again in 2010. He can also be credited with bringing to light one of neofolk’s greatest and most enduring acts, Changes, when he teamed up with Germany’s Cthulhu Records in 1996 to release their Fire of Life debut.
His most recent endeavor is a folk project under the name of Knotwork–again with his partner Annabel and Robert Ferbrache, and introducing Don Schabner–that is more in the traditional style. Because of their work in Blood Axis, Knotwork have already enjoyed a well-respected status and have recently released a short 7” entitled 3 x 3 featuring three traditional folk tunes, two of which were recorded live at St. Vitus in Brooklyn. The A-side of 3 x 3 is the song “Henaan and Sayers,” which is about what is considered to be the first “World Title” international boxing event that took place on the morning of April 17th, 1860. The event was actually considered illegal yet went on despite the law. The song essentially tells the tale of the two fighters. The 7” also features an instrumental track entitled “Kvernknurren” which is an excellent show-piece of Annabel Lee’s extraordinary talent as a violinist and fiddle player. Finally, the 7” ends with the very well-known traditional piece “Twa Corbies.” Many should be familiar with this song as artists such as Sol Invictus have performed fine adaptations of it. Andrew King has also recorded a brilliant version of the song’s English counterpart, “The Three Ravens.” While the English version is quite upbeat and not very pessimistic at all, the Scottish version, “Twa Corbies,” is much darker and instead tells the tale of two ravens discussing what they are going to dine on. Of course, in this version, one raven begins to tell the other of a newly slain knight who had lost his lover to another man with the discussion working its way towards how they will make their “dinner sweeter.”
Perhaps due to the artists’ seasoned experience or because of the short length of this release, overall, there is not much negative can be said about 3 x 3. The songs are well-executed–as we’ve come to expect from these musicians–and the theme of each song is very fitting. Production quality is obviously a characteristic for any recording that can make or break a release, and the overall production on 3 x 3 is of the best style for folk music: organic. Even with the two tracks that were recorded live, I’ve found that the production only minimally has that “live” sound to it yet still manages to sound completely natural. I’ve found the Knotwork adaptation of “Twa Corbies” to be one of my favorites and very close to what I would imagine one may hear in an old-world Scottish pub. In fact, that may be a very fitting description to the songs featured on the album overall.
I have found this to be one of the more enjoyable releases of the year and one that I had very much been looking forward to upon hearing the first whispers of its imminent release. If you are into stripped-down, traditional folk music, then this brief offering is definitely for you. Traditional folk enthusiasts who have found themselves wary of the neofolk genre may find this an easy entry-point as well. Moynihan has shown, yet again, that he and his troupe are among the elite musicians in the genre and are very knowledgeable with regards to European folklore and traditions. As with any enjoyable 7”, especially 3 x 3 since it is the only physical offering from the band to date, my only complaint is that it is not nearly long enough. This debut offering ends just short of the ten minute mark. One can only hope that Knotwork will soon be able to release their first full-length.
A1) Heenan & Sayers (Traditional)
B1) Kvernknurren (The Mill Sprite)
B2) Twa Corbies (Traditional)