Folkstorm – Folksongs CD Old Europa Café 2011
Keeping up with the continual output of the hyper productive Henrik ‘Nordvargr’ Björkk is a rather monumental task, meaning on occasion certain albums slip under the radar at the time of release. ‘Folkmusic’ is one such album, which although a couple of years old deserves some belated praise and attention.
To slightly backtrack, Folkstorm was laid to rest in the early 2000’s but did not stay dormant for long, with the 2005 album ‘Folkmusik’ heralding the return of the reanimated Folkstorm corpse. ‘Folksongs’ is the third post resurrection album which delivers some of the most focused and streamlined harsh industrial musings produced by the project to date. Notably the looser and (potentially) semi-improvised sound of earlier material has been overhauled here with ‘song’ based structures (…which evidently has been the result of experimenting with new musical equipment).
Over the 11 album tracks the refined ‘song’ based approach blends clinical industrial rhythms, militant drum machine beats, pulsing/ burrowing/ wavering noise, crumbling static, shredding distortion etc. However with reference to the structured elements it is necessary to point out that the beats and rhythms are very much of the mechanised factory type, and are clearly not of an industrial dance variety. Similarly with its hard and generally minimalistic programmed structures, complimented with vocals ranging from morbidly spoken through to roughly yelled (…all distortion treated mind you), it brings to mind comparisons to the early sound German stalwarts Haus Arafna (…a compliment no doubt).
Although the overall sound embodies an old school analogue type feel, the album has a brutally loud, crisp and sharp production which suits the harshness of the music perfectly. Likewise whilst ‘Folkmusic’ retains a core sonic aesthetic of aggressive harsh industrial, there are a number of tracks where it forgoes aggression for slower ominous death industrial atmospheres, meaning there is a wide degree of sonic diversity across its relatively short 40 minute span.
Noting that Nordvargr has never opted to create ‘easy’ listening music, Folkstorm is clearly a project which sits at the harder end of what he produces. However even if you think you already know what Folkstorm is all about based on earlier output, you are likely to be rather surprised of how different ‘Folkmusic’ actually is. Although the tracks are constructed with ‘typical’ harsh industrial elements of stilted rhythms, squelching noise, power drilling textures and an atmosphere of abrasive yet clinical morbidity, it is their focus and song structure which comes through so strongly and makes this an album with such immediate impact.