Àrnica / Wolfsblood : Soliferro / Wolves Of The North

Àrnica / Wolfsblood : Soliferro / Wolves Of The NorthPesanta : 2009
Format : 10” vinyl EP

Two slightly different Sons of Europe join forces on this 10” record to deliver one of my favorite Folk releases of the year: Barcelonan band Àrnica, who you’ve already seen praised here in reviews as well as an interview, and the one man Russian project Wolfsblood. This is the first, and thus far the sole, release on Adam Collins-Torruella’s newly formed Pesanta label. For those who don’t know, Adam has been taking photos and videos of bands on the NeoFolk scene for years.

Side A of the record begins with Àrnica. If anything these four tracks sound even more earthy and primitive than their debut disc “Viejo Mundo”. It’s as if they wondered through the Catalonian countryside and assembled the instruments on the spot. There’s lots of field recordings for atmosphere, ethnic drums, bells, flutes and shamanic chants. The rhythms are simple, but draw you in like a moth to a flame. Listening to the second track, “Gran Caballo Negro”, I couldn’t help but think “I recognize this voice from somewhere..”. I was pleased to discover a guest spot by fellow Barcelonan Demian of Ô Paradis. These guys are one of my favorite Folk bands going at the moment because for me, they are the literal translation of “folk”. Excellent!

I must admit I was unfamiliar with Wolfsblood until this record and was extremely impressed. I was under the impression that this was another Dark Ambient project that would get lost among the other several hundred I wade though in a year, but it’s nothing like that at all. In fact, it was perfectly paired with Àrnica. There’s definitely a ritual ambience to the four tracks delivered, but it’s completely organic in sound and feeling. Using his own shamanic drums, chimes, whispered chants and sounds from his own natural surrounding, Wolfsblood weaves a mystical spell of Northern European heritage. There are some beautiful female vocals on the last track as well. And the Russian language is the perfect juxtaposition to the Spanish and Catalan of Àrnica.

This is a wonderful EP and an impressive start for Pesanta. Adam has set the bar high for his label and one I hope he’ll continue to maintain. The record comes with a beautiful double-cover featuring artwork to represent each band. Absolutely necessary!

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