CD REVIEW – Sowulo – MANN

Sowulo makes atmospheric dark folk, strongly rooted in their pagan past.

Sowulo, Sowilu, Sowilo, or even better Sol or Sigel, is the name of the rune-s and means ‘Sun’ on a symbolic level. The cyclical nature of the Sun is the very central point of their lives and music. They follow the movement of the Sun and tell the stories of their inner and outer cycles of day and night, the four seasons, life and death. As they say, every musical component of Sowulo forms cycles: from every individual song up to the entire discography.

Sowulo is a project formed by the Dutch multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Faber Horbach. With a great passion for music, history and shamanism, Faber has a need for creating melancolic and meaningful songs full of spirit and depth and he has inspired thousands of listeners around the world to connect with their cyclical and spiritual nature through his music.

With immersive songs Sowulo say they celebrate their great pagan legacy and take themselves on an inner spiritual journey. The lyrics and the music, created with (early) medieval and contemporary instruments combined with cinematic sounds and voice, are intended to invoke archetypical wisdom and express the cyclical nature of existence.

With their first album Alvenrad, Faber Horbach made a piece of art, a mix of classical and Celtic/Nordic music that sounded like a classical folk suite, celebrating the beauty of nature and the neo-pagan festivals. On the second Sowulo album Sol, the music was more like the traditional format of individual songs. Both were primarily instrumental albums. Mann is seen as an inner journey, described by Faber as representing his inner four seasons. The different sides of his personality, represented by the warrior, the lover, the magician, and the king. It is a primordial musical expression of these interlocked personalities, their struggles, and their growth. It was born as the soundtrack to a possible movie about a Dutch Celtic tribe in the early Middle Ages. The film never materialized, so Faber decided to use the material he already had and so it has become his most personal album yet.

Faber is also the vocalist of the Viking/folk metal band Myrkvar, a band that mixes melodic metal in the style of Heidevolk together with screamed vocals and folk influences. Talking of vocals, they are epic, theatrical and constantly double vocal, slightly screamy. For those who like Viking metal, this album is for you. It’s a dramatic album. If you want to try before you buy, listen to ‘Brego in Brēoste’ as a sampler.

I’ve stressed the metal and the throaty vocals, but there are some melodic moments (‘Fægru Fara’) but still with those vocals. Sophie Zaaijer on violin, Klaartje van Zwoll on viola, Faber on nyckelharpa and Chloe Bakker’s harp melodies make it a nice song. ‘Dēoplīcu Ðearf’ is another song with strong vocals with tender moments and good orchestration.

And then you get the percussive and chanting of ‘Wulfwiga’ is another epic – shamanic percussion, dynamic vocals and a nyckelharpa part of the melodic elements of the song. ‘Slincan Snīcan has an atmospheric intro before a raucous climax enhanced by the powerful orchestral string section. And then you get ‘Berabeorn’ – acoustic Nordic folk metal/ – but raw, distorted and in it’s own way disturbing. Call it artistic expression.

It’s not for everyone. To be honest, on many planes, it’s not for me. It will divide people. It’s powerful and intense. It’s challenging. It’s provocative. But that’s what an artist wants.

Tracklisting:

Gāstcyning

Wulfwiga 

Hēahlufu

Sceadugenga

Brego in Brēoste

Swīnhæleðas

Fægru Fara

Slincan Snīcan

Innra Æcer

Berabeorn 

Dēoplīcu Ðearf 

Wōhs Wildum 

Band

Composed and produced by Faber Horbach

Faber Horbach | Vocals, Throat singing, Lyre, Nyckelharpa, Irish bouzouki, Jouhikko, Synths & VST

Chloe Bakker | Celtic triplett harp
Sophie Zaaijer | Violin
Pan Bartkowiak | Woodblock & shakers
Klaartje van Zwoll | Viola
Fieke van den Hurk | Shakers

Internet

Sowulo – Mann

sowulo.nl

Instagram

YouTube

Facebook

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