Facts are facts and beliefs are beliefs. Both form a quasi-indestructible pair of opposites because in a world pre-Trump anything was basically one or the other but never anything in between. So when Italian dark folk/neo-psych artist Nero Kane gives us his new record Of Knowledge and Revelation the title implies a record full of contradictions. Nevertheless, it has a phenomenal flow.
First of all, a cover whose color palette reminds me of Depeche Mode’s Violator can’t be a bad sign – and indeed here we have a record which is so delightfully arranged with a lot of neo-folk guitar pickings and ambient song foundations that its beauty is quite obvious. Nero Kane lays a lot of windy and hushed foundations sometimes with real synth passages on which he then displays his remarkable lyrics in a form of recitals that remind one of traveling bards. The vocals are shared between Nero and now-official member Samantha Stella; by the way guessing that Nero Kane is a stage name it is quite cool to see a musician choose a much more sinister combination than Marilyn Manson, because that one is now already dead and old but one must love the combination of mad emperor Nero and the journalism magnate Citizen Kane (which again is based on the real newspaper millionaire Hurst).
Stella’s voice is somewhere between Nico and Wolvennest’s Shazzula and it lends itself perfectly to these airy and eerie tracks which can soothe and scare at the same time. One perfect example for this is the eight-minute-epic ”The Vale of Rest” when we encounter the pair on a windswept Dover peak in the middle of a long-forgotten ritual. When the next track ”The Pale Kingdom” then opens with a very central acoustic guitar-line and only Samantha’s vocals this is so perfectly floating that one has the feeling of her being right behind oneself and whispering lines like ”The Pale Kingdom comes / where the blinding light sleeps / the Pale Kingdom comes”. These lines are sung like the summoning element of an age-old ritual calling for either a god or a destroyer to come. Sometimes we also have the feeling of a whole choir, as in ”Sola Gratia” where it seems as if a good christian tries to disdain from the whole music scene of today.
The neo-folk elements are “only” the clean guitar elements that adorn every track but the vocals have a very similar feeling and in some way the topics do so too. When Nero sings “But your light will guide me to your reign / But your light will guide me / In the Ascent of the Blessed” (”The End, The Beginning, the Eternal”) it purveys the imminence of one joining the choir in order to make it stronger and more audible in the other world, where gods are walking the earth and traveling bards are able to call upon them.
Getting back to the title of the record and its duality: The same idea can be applied to ”Lacrimi si Sinfti” which starts with the enumeration of eight contrasts arriving here in the form of a mantra which ascends and spirals higher and higher by the moment. Nero Kane is surely one of those acts which really can pull off this kind of dark ambient meets neo-folk music, even involving some form of field recordings. However lets hope that he has neither spoken his last “Rosebud” nor played the final chord on his guitar, for both would be a shame for I am sure he still has a lot of great music left in him. Maybe then without paradoxon.
Here is the video for “Lady Of Sorrow”: