27 Apr 2022 - Thorsten
Folklorian Black Metal | Eisenwald | Release date: 22 Apr 2022 | Favorite song: Der Köhlerknecht
“Die alte Straße / menschenleer / schleicht müde durch die Fichten“ (“The old road / deserted / is slinking tiredly through the spruces”) - when listening German poetry like that accompanied by wonderfully melancholic guitar (or lute?) sounds then one of the first guesses should be that you are witnessing a track by black metal meets folklore mastermind Martin van Valkenstijn and his project MOSAIC. And you are – cause it’s a line from his new record Heimatspuk!
We have been fans of MOSAIC for a long time and published quite a lot about Martin’s project over the years and it becomes clearer – the musical vision that he follows is nothing less than the unification of black metal’s tornadoes and punkish rawness with the thoughtfulness and intimacy to the natural world that traditional folk brings with it.
MOSAIC’s oeuvre is a contradictory one: on the one hand you can find lyrics that are very modern or offer a change of perspective usually not associated with trad songs, just take the aforementioned line from ”Die Alte Straße” and you can witness such a change as the song is narrated from the perspective of the old road which is personified in the lyrics. On the other hand there are some nice whirlwinds of black metal origins, such as the rather upbeat opening track ”Wir sind Geister” (“We are Ghosts”) or the ninth track ”Unterholz Zoubar” which was also one of the pre-released singles.
This album is also in some ways Martin’s most advanced when it comes to the use of samples and field recordings: The album opens with a sampled old-fashioned polka waltz which immediately transports every person of German or Alpine descent back to the 1950s or 60s when such music could be heard on German TV as the backdrop to some really bad comedies. Nevertheless, one should not think, that the use of such samples is meant in a derogatory way: Martin rather tries to combine these things in a respectful way with his musical vision and yes, it does work. These samples seem to honor the traditions of his regions in Thuringia from where he draws most of the inspiration for his folklore lyrics. This respectfulness can also be seen in the fact that he very often wears a classical wooden mask such as the one featured in the video for ”Wir sind Geister”.
The music on this album is more often than before upbeat without being aggressive or mean. And one track that we should mention is the tenth and last track ”Tief verschneit die ganze Welt” (”Snowed in the whole world”) as it is a very light, ambient instrumental that is a perfect ending to the record. Here field recordings and some celestial synths are combined to form a heavenly, up-reaching and even uplifting ending to an album that will move you (especially if you understand the lyrics) and can deal with songs and arrangements that at first seem strange but then again completely self-sufficient and cohesive. This mixture of themes and songs, genres and ideas, traditions and openness is surely unique. Music for people who can appreciate the unusual. We certainly do!