CD Review

V/A – “Neither Beginning nor End”

By Marcus Pan

Neither Beginning nor EndWhat we have here is a label sampler for France’s Cynfeirdd label. The label has partnered with the Masachusetts outfit Strange Fortune. With most compilations you expect some kind of synchronicity as the album progresses. You won’t find that here – it’s a promotional CD to introduce the listener to the various folk noir bands from Europe currently on the Cynfeirdd roster. A lot of the tracks here on Neither Beginning nor End would be considerably out of format for Legends’ usual reviews, but since it’s a label sampler and since there are some bands here that would fit our format I’ve decided to have a go at it.

We open with Richard Moult’s A Night Sky which for all intents and purposes is an opera track. We won’t discuss it much for that reason (Legends revieweing opera? WTF?) and move on. Aldireon’s Il Sole Nero is very pleasant, folk based with light strumming acoustic guitar and low key male vocals. Out of Italy, the track is originally from the La Stanze del Sole Nero album. The added flutes are a beautiful touch and it closes a bit experimentally with deep resonant tones that fade you away, which I’m not quite sure was appropriate.

From the Book of Pelin album still to be released we have Kinovia’s Revelation of Archangel. This I like, and its dark undertones and deep drumming is one of the reasons I decided to keep it on the review schedule. The electronics have an evil tint to them and the male “Aah” style chanting is lethargic and disturbing. Duparc’s A Nestling Garden is sweet and nice, pretty female vocals, but with the percussion dropping out it tends to lose its way. Following this we have Russia’s Wolfblood with Voluspa off of the Twilight of the World CD. Somewhat experimental in make-up, but not in a modern way. Shaman-like perhaps, but not really my thing.

Herr’s The Fall of Constantinople is this compilation’s (sampler’s) standout. It’s electronic as far as I can tell, but brilliantly executed as an orchestration that goes as a great backdrop to a fantasy style scene. The spoken word story about the fall of the city itself is strong and powerful, putting you there at the falling gates as the enemy army batters it with all they have to offer. This is the second track that made me say, “Ok, I’ll write up the CD even if most aren’t our thing.” This particular track is from The Winter of Constantinople. Immediately after the similar vein of La Marche des Morts strikes forward with its heavy marching beat and kind of silly sounding flute. I dig it though because it compliments The Fall of Constantinople nicely. Closing Neither Beginning nor End is the electro-sounding Black Generation from Pavillon 7B. It’s got an interesting vibe, but somehow the female vocals are too sweet for the deeper melodies of the synths.

The bands that I give hearty thumbs up to on the Cynfeirdd label are Aldieron, Kinovia and of course Herr and Gae Bolg. Pick up this CD if you want to hear a selection of folk noir and pick those that appeal to you. Don’t pick this CD up looking for a solid and flowing compilation album. While the bands are similar in that Cynfeirdd signs folk noir, this is meant to give you a heads up on what’s coming (and has come) from this French label.

Contact Information:
Strange Fortune
Post: PO Box 440383,Somerville, MA, 02144, USA
Phone: (617) 718-9990