“The silent cold is like a wolf in the woods…,” and thus the observation begins the journey for Urze de Lume into what is new and as yet untraveled places for this Iberian quartet. Vozes na Neblina, their latest, long-awaited offering, brings us a reflective, slightly morose, and saddened expression of loss, as well as a strong tendency to remain present. These “voices in the haze” are the voices we hear when we are in those darkening moments of change—the slow dying of all around us, reminding us that we are not different or separate from our place. We are of our place, and Urze de Lume are of theirs—strongly so—and it comes through like the light breaking through baring branches in the cooling forest.
I first came upon Urze de Lume in a collection of Iberian music that also featured Sangre de Muerdago, a Galician group that I hold in high regard. The sounds of earthly rattles and hide-skinned drums with the eerie shriek of droning pipes combined elements that I find to be particularly powerful. When done with balance and harmony, these sounds are transmutative, shifting consciousness in aural ceremony. This group found that balance in a way that only few have. I gathered all I could in videos on YouTube, of which there is an impressive collection, and mp3s from Bandcamp.
This four-track EP brings us around the fire for the story of our age. I am not sure if the political climate of our modern world or the quickening of the technology takeover has influenced this recording, but it could not be timelier. Vozes na Neblina is opened by a poem that is more of an incantation of what is to come: Dark and aware, like the rites of man in coming of age, we understand that what is to come is harsher than what we know. I wonder if this portents something in the future course of Urze de Lume.
Already we hear the changing rhythms and cadence in the first musical track. A slower, meditative piece, “Quando as nuvens escurecem” takes us into our deeper place of reflection. The quietness of the piece is calming and reassuring in a way, while also setting a tone of loss—of acceptance.
Then comes the realization of being alone. The third track is a vicious epitaph of a forgotten way. The sadness transforms to anger, and anger into movement. This is the awakening by fire, and what follows is the Urze de Lume we have known, with a sense of purpose that is mature and shows their development from a simple folk group playing old sounds to a collective of journeymen discovering the old roads. It is not what the old ones did but what they sought that is now in focus. Musically, the final track has the driving drum that is the heartbeat of Urze de Lume with the ebbing and flowing of the bowed lyre, punctuated with the hoof rattle that is the bones of a people lying just under the surface. Iberian favorites Árnica lend their voices to the poetry tracks, backed by the crisp sounds of a fire on a cool night. The bone fires are alive and will burn eternal.
I look forward to the future of this band and am likewise satiated for now with this addition to their body of work. With the meditation on autumn, on the fall of man, and on its very important role in the cycles, we can begin the prayers that will guide us through these turbulent times to come, be it war, the rise of fascism, or the falling of bombs, what the world of man creates: the world of nature transforms. This is what this album says to me. What does it tell you?