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17 Apr 2010

Review: Hadewych (Hadewych)

Self Titled
Tuchtunie 2009

While many musical artists have tried to draw together naturalistic and industrial influences, few are particularly successful – the delicate synergy of elements required is all too easily missed. This album, however, is a brilliant example of how good a combination of musical genres they can be.

This album is pervaded with a seriously dark, atmospheric, and atavistic spirit. It speaks directly to the unconscious in ways that make the conscious mind more than a little uncomfortable, the hazy samples, gruelling percussion, and enigmatic vocals (unfortunately it is quite hard to make out the lyrics) all playing their part. The tracks range from minimal dark ambient stylings through to harsh industrial and spirited neofolk. The ritualistic and mysterious vistas opened through the tracks are deeply absorbing.

There’s a sharp tang of ancient spite running throughout the whole of the album, as though ancient nature spirits were using the music to express their fury and frustration in the face of technological devastation. This is where the dialogue between organic and electric instrumentation reaches its apex – the music as a whole is both a fierce exchange between archetypal foes and yet also a seamless drawing together of that conflict into a greater whole.

Hadewych’s mastermind, Peter Johan Nijland, is impressively multi-instrumental, and the breadth of elements on these twelve tracks is wonderful, whether they be dreamy acoustics, smooth bass, experimental percussion, or grating noise. The guest performers are also extremely talented, with the female vocals on “A Forest for Wyrd” raising the song as a whole to the sublime.

Also worthy of mention is the very unique packaging. I am one of those strange people that still care about the physical form in which music is presented and from that point of view this release made me very happy.

This is dark, eerie, atmospheric, and very deep music. Both beautiful and ugly, the connecting thread is reverence for the unknown, the dark shadows of nature. Hadewych shine with a profoundly dark light.

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