Faun seems to have a bit of a revolving musician line up of late but fundamentally the sound of the pagan folk troupe remains unchanged. With their latest album ‘Marchen & Mythen’, a new vocalist and a focus on acoustic arrangements make this a softer album than many of Fauns’ predecessors.
The men in Faun remain the same and whilst our lead percussionist is a little under the radar at times, he does get a few opportunities to shine. Equally, male vocal leads have been reduced on this album too, along with the shift towards a Celtic focused sound. With that brings the soft and serene vocals of newcomer Laura (replacing Katja). In quieter tracks, she commands each note with ease and this is where her vocal style shines as she has a wide vocal range. That also means when we get to the power choruses, Faun relies on the layers of male and female voices to give scale and grandeur. Thankfully it works almost every time and this seems to be where the male vocals have regathered. Whilst it isn’t anything new for Faun perse, it could run the risk of feeling a little formulaic if this is a style they’ll stick to for albums to come.
It does make each chorus feel euphoric and celebratory though! The other reason why these peaks and troughs work so well is down the intricate pipework. The acoustic guitar and fiddle are present most of the time but when we want riffs, it’s the pipes (sometimes dualling with strings or fiddles) that shine. It is this reason why I say this album is Faun doing a Celtic turn. It works well and offers a lighter side to their usual darker tones.
There are some fantastic tracks across the album. Single ‘Rosenrot’ is classic Faun. ‘Seeman’ has the perfect mystical folk quality. ‘Aschenbrodel’ could end up on a Secret Garden album. The acoustic version of ‘Sieben Radan’ evokes all those beautiful live in the garden videos Faun recorded over a decade ago. The standout track for me is ‘Holia’. It feels Elvan and there is some really clever vocal layering that reminds me a little of Imogen Heap.
There is one minor complaint I have. A few of the tracks feel oddly familiar and skirt a little close to previous songs. Whilst they never feel close enough to feel like alternate versions or rip-offs, the unusual familiarity I had with the album after just a first listen had me thinking. Did I feel like I had heard some of it before or am I so in tune with Faun and their sound, I can guess the chords and rhythms before they happen? I am genuinely unsure but it doesn’t stop me enjoying ‘Marchen & Mythen’ as a body of work.
Ultimately the album is a beautiful reminder and confirmation that the core DNA of Faun remains intact as members change over the years. Whilst this is possibly their most folksy and Celtic album to date, that’s not a bad thing. It shows they are happy to try new things and for one I am grateful that they can turn their hand to many folk guises.
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