This review originally appeared in Black Seed 6, Spring 2018
“We seem to move on a thin crust
which may at any moment be rent by
the subterranean forces slumbering
“From time immemorial the mistletoe
has been the object of superstitious
veneration in Europe.”
Voy os pinos. I go to the pines. There is a hidden presence among the trees there. It walks alongside me. Something I cannot see but feel in the submerged parts of my soul. The dark lagoons of consciousness, where strange fish swim and forgotten structures lie buried beneath algae and dirt. Titanic beasts move beneath those waters with glacial slowness. Shapes that blend and merge with each other. Mad, incomprehensible struggles occur in those lightless deep places. A stirring upon the fringes of awareness. A light fluttering in the bottomless caverns of sleep. The Thing-Among-the-Pines whispers to me but it is my own voice. Is it a dream? Or a memory?
Above the rocky cliffs, where millennia of waves have broken their strength upon those fortresses of stone, stand the dolmen rising out of the gloom of twilight. Fearsome monuments, mystic and dread. The fair Iberian moon shines down on these relics of the people of the hill and the forest. But I have seen the corridor through the pines that leads
to the great mound. The force that sleeps within stirs in its fitful dreams. It has seen castles rise and fall. It has seen the great forests torn down. It has seen the thousand rivers flow to the sea, bearing the silt of ages. It has seen the wolf dancing among the
lightning on frosty peaks. And it will see many things more. Things forgotten, things dreamed, things only partly remembered as consciousness slips beyond the threshold. Is it night? Is it day? It is the moon, the moon and the pines. Do I dream? Or do I remember?It is upon the threshold between the two worlds that the gentle sounds of Galician folk druids Sangre de Muerdago (“Blood of Mistletoe”) dwell and weave together ancient songs of the lost gods that once prowled lush inlets and pine forests. The songs of those who now sleep beneath the barrow and dance quietly under the moon. Since 2007, Sangre de Muerdago have been evoking the haunting memories that wander among unhewn stones and ruined castles on the Galician coast. Universally acclaimed for their blend of medieval and contemporary folk traditions, their latest LP Noite, continues to tell twilight stories of moss, mud, and stone through the nickelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, and the celtic harp. Having played almost 300 concerts in over 20 countries over the past several years, Sangre de Muerdago has become one of the foremost voices in the global neofolk movement. And fans of their recognizable haunting, ethereal aesthetic will not be disappointed with this latest release.
Moving gracefully from gentle, somber, and contemplative moods to the rousing, intoxicating, and ecstatic, Noite builds on the work Sangre de Muerdago has done over their last three albums, split records, and EPs, while also bringing a fresh sense of inspiration. Pablo Ursusson’s otherworldly voice drifts through these songs like the mist descending from the mountains, weaving its way through the pines. With accompaniment by Asia Kindred Moore, Georg Borner, and Erik Heimansberg, Ursusson brings the listener on a rambling midnight journey through the woods. There is a kind of self discovery that can only be achieved through the descent into darkness, a kind of knowing that only shines by the light of the moon. Noite offers us a contemplation of this dark knowing. There is sadness in these songs but it is of a sweet and delicate kind, a stabbing at the heart occasioned by a potent memory. The world we pass through now
is the dew upon the blade of grass. It exists in a moment of staggering beauty and pain before it vanishes in the blazing truth of the sun. Sangre de Muerdago playfully reminds us of the vastness that lies beneath our feet. A greater world, thickly numinous, inhabited by the ten thousands things and spirits, vaster and more true by far than the one we wander through blindly during our days and nights of loneliness and confusion.
This is music that calls us to the groves, to the high places, to the ruins. It beckons
us to follow the image of the capering flute player, the Horned One and his skin of wine, to leave behind the world of modernity and industrialism, a world that seeks to bury the old gods and the Spirit of the Wild. But as we know, buried things are no less potent, though they are entombed. A god forgotten becomes a myth and in the dreams of night, myths rise from their dusty slumber and stride boldly through meadows and woods. Noite brings us to this dream-like realm, where the gods of the wild world dance and sing around the bonfire, beneath the moon. It is music that dances like the ceremonial flame.
Sangre de Muerdago Noite–LP/CD/
Digital, Out in Spring 2018
Neuropa, Música Máxica—LP
SMGS Records, Música Máxica—
CD & Digital