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10 Jul 2011

Review: Silver Moon Slumber (Key)

Key
Silver Moon Slumber
Anima Arctica, 2011

Hailing from the cold but beautiful climes of Finland, Key are purveyors of dreamy and evocative neofolk. Their new release Silver Moon Slumber is a beautiful album, at once trancelike and atmospheric. Loaded with unique groove, and resonant with inflections from New Wave, this release conjures cold but joyous landscapes in the mind’s ear.

Musically, the album’s architecture is built around jangling acoustic guitars, expressive basswork, and fluid drumming. Resonant and eerie vocals provide the direction for the music, which is also traced by the occasional support instrument such as chimes or fiddle.

The arrangements are sparse and hang together perfectly. The whole album has a supple momentum, the drums and guitars driving things along at a solid, albeit not frantic, tempo. The main source of melody tends to be provided by the bass work, which is very expressive and tasteful. Being a bass aficionado, this was right up my alley.

The combination of somnolent vocals, flowing drums, prominent bass, and jangling (if acoustic) guitars combine to intimate the feeling of New Wave bands from the early 1980’s, albeit presented within a more languid folk context. Key shares this influence with American neofolk outfit Cult of Youth, and both bands profit greatly from such fertile cross-pollination. This emerging direction in neofolk is very promising.

There’s something almost innocent or childlike about this album. It draws the listener down into a subconscious zone of awareness, deep and almost whimsical. The lyrics evoke naturalistic horizons and mysterious secrets, perfectly suited to the music. All of the elements combine to lead the listener into reverie and moments of animistic grace.

Key are gloomy, and at times heavy in that particularly Finnish folk music way; but they are also playful and uplifting. I think this combination of moods is quite an achievement, and I can happily recommend Silver Moon Slumber to anyone who has the slightest liking for folk music. I hope we’ll be hearing more from this very talented ensemble!

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