The oldest arteries of Mother Earth exhaling.
A sequel in name and vibe to his 2015 debut ‘Primordial’, Paleowolf returns to his ritual roots with ‘Primordial II’. There are very few musicians that tackle tribal ritual music in such a unique and primal way. Combining pounding frame drums, atmospheric deep synth drones and a guttural monk-like chant, this is all about taking an ethereal and ancestral trip back in time to the beginnings of music.
Fans of bands like Dead Can Dance, Wardruna, Faun and perhaps monk chants will likely find a lot to enjoy here. The entire album works as a full song cycle – so much so that songs effortlessly move from one to the other and it feels like the album is one continuous track. Joining them is often the empty howl of wind or distant bird song. Most of the pieces focus on a thumping of percussion that focuses only on the bass drum. There is never any metallic percussion, it’s not been invented yet. Paleowolf is all about how prehistoric rituals would have been made – before a shaker was even in action. This makes the entire album incredibly dense. The bass of the drums and synths reverberate through you. This is added to by often aggressive chants that veer on throat singing without getting there – or nasally deep-voiced drones. The result is something that feels dark, ambiguous, aggressive, pumped full of flight or flight testosterone and primal.
The other side of Paleowolf seems to want to evoke a shamans trance. Often beats and rhythms rise and fall to get you into a trance-like state and the slow movement of any melody also calls to the ritualistic side of the music. It is hard not to zone out to the distant vocals that feel like they come from the other side of a forest or a slowly twisting note of the wind that is changing pitch without drawing you to it. There is a cleverness to the production and songwriting that I really enjoyed. It isn’t for everyone though as the melodic side of the work is minimal. The most melodic piece on the album is ‘Primal Sun’ which closes it out, bringing in an organ to swim among the sea of voices. If I was being very critical, there also isn’t a huge amount of difference between all of Paleowolf’s work. Thankfully he is so unique in his field, just being him is startling and exciting enough. I do hope over time he starts to move forward or backwards in time to try out different eras of shaman music.
If you are looking for that primal need to pound a drum and bellow, Paleowolf has you covered. Uniquely ancient and like the forming of a lava tube as music, there isn’t anything else quite like it out there. You can feel the force of the Earth being created and natures fury in every beat of the drum. You can hear the zen terror of humanity in each drone. It is equal parts terror and liberating – as a transcendent ritual would probably make you feel. Best served at night after a drink for ultimate Viking rage.
Recommended track: Agros
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