December 19, 2021 — Kurgan readers may be disappointed by the lack of representation from the metal genre this week. However, they need not fret as fresh folk releases showcase the strength and beauty that can be found in traditional sounds. World-famous Celtic composer Adrian Von Ziegler dropped a new compilation record, Draugablíkk teased a Winter Solstice track, and singles from Bobby Sant, Bjorth, and Faun were released.

This week’s roundup has stories to tell through these pieces of music, you need only listen to them.

Unique Collab Sees Germany’s Bjorth & Mongolia’s Bukhu Drop New Single ‘Khishigten’

German dark folk act Bjorth has collaborated with Bukhu for a new single called ‘Khishigten’. While fans of neofolk will recognize Bjorth, most are likely unfamiliar with the featured artist. Bukhchuluun Ganburged (Bukhu) performs the folk music of Mongolia, who is also a cultural ambassador to Mongolia, to bring a contemporary take on the tradition of Mongolian bards of medieval and ancient times.

This pairing fits all too well as Bjorth considers themselves to be a dark folk/medieval music group. Both artists attempt to translate traditional sounds into modern music, and this collaborative effort shows the proficiency they both possess.

The song title is based on the Mongolian word for “blessed” or “favored”, and is also the title given to the imperial guard of the Mongol Empire. As for the song itself, it incorporates traditional motifs and instrumentation to great effect. Incredibly atmospheric, the track utilizes ambient sounds and places emphasis on stringed instruments. Bukhu has made a wonderful contribution through his masterful performance of the Morin Khuur and Khuumii (Harmonic Overtone Throat Singing).

‘Khishigten’ will surprise listeners in all the best ways and is a great example of how cross-culture collaboration can produce phenomenal results.

The track has been added to the Kurgan Compass™ official neofolk playlist on Spotify.

Adrian Von Ziegler releases new, 16-track compilation album ‘The Celtic Collection IV’

Swiss folk music composer Adrian Von Ziegler has released the fourth compilation album in his series The Celtic Collection. For those familiar with his work, it should come as no surprise that the new collection derives inspiration and instrumentation almost exclusively from Celtic themes.

Adrian Von Ziegler continues to astound with his music, and to single out one of the tracks from the new LP, ‘Wolf Princess’ is a prime example. Featuring his characteristic style, the song incorporates orchestral composition along with traditional sounds. This feat is made all the more impressive when you realize that Ziegler composes and synthesizes all his music digitally.

The string and wind instruments utilized by Ziegler have a clear and captivating sound, giving ‘Wolf Princess’ a lighter feeling without relying on percussion. These aspects grant the song a distinct identity, allowing listeners to differentiate between a Norse-inspired track versus one with Celtic inspiration.

In contrast to analog synthesizers, (which playback digital recordings of acoustic, electric, or electronic instruments) synthesizers use digital signal processing to create musical sounds. However, this never detracts from Ziegler’s work, and ‘Wolf Princess’ is no exception. You can find The Celtic Collection IV on Ziegler’s Bandcamp page and the new material is, of course, also available on all music services.

Draugablíkk Teases New Single; Will Release Simultaneously With The 2021 Winter Solstice

Eclectic Russo-Nordic neofolk band Draugablíkk has teased a new multi-version single that will coincide with the 2021 Winter Solstice that occurs on Tuesday, December 21, and which is also the release date of the new material.

Hreinnhǫfði – Solstice Sólablót is a reworked, shorter version of a dark folk track with the same name from last year’s album Verjaseidr, released on the Winter Solstice of 2020.

Hreinnhǫfði – Solstice Sólablót cover artwork.

The upcoming release also features the band’s new female singer who goes by the name of Alvtýra. Keep an eye on the Draugablíkk Bandcamp page for the new single to release: fans can surely join the band’s effort to commemorate the Winter Solstice by listening on time and schedule.

Draugablíkk provided the following message through Bandcamp’s emailing service:

“We hope fans will be listening to the song at the above time and day. But rest assured, we will do it on our end.”

The 2021 winter solstice occurs at 10:59 a.m. ET/7:59 a.m. and (nowadays) marks the official start of the astronomical winter (and the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere.)

FAUN Turns to Finland’s Epic Myth Väinämöinen

Faun has taken inspiration from Finnish folklore for their new single ‘Wainamoinen’. The title is based on the hero and demigod from the collection of epic poetry known as the Kalevala that was written around the year 1850 by Elias Lönnroth (at the time, Finland was part of Sweden.) In the literary work, the main character is Wainamoinen himself. Described as an old and wise man it is said he could invoke great magic with little more than his singing voice and the playing of his harp.

‘Wainamoinen’ is a testament to Faun who has managed to create some truly magical material. With Celtic harp, lute, hurdy-gurdy, and polyphonic singing. While the lyrics may not be in English, listeners can understand the reverence behind the words, something integral for any hero’s ballad — not least because the atmosphere of the ballad also draws from the motifs of Finnish rune songs.

‘Wainamoinen’ lets the Kalevala serve as deep inspiration for the musical form brought forth by Faun. The instrumentation alone is also something to gush about, but the song as a whole (in accordance with its namesake) is, as they say — truly epic.

The track is available on Spotify and all other music services.

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Bobby Sant Re-Teams with Sun and Moon Dance

When music is able to invoke emotion in a listener it is something truly special. This is even more impressive if the music in question is in a language most listeners cannot understand. Bobby Sant, along with Sun and Moon Dance, has achieved such a feat with their new collaborative single ‘Föll’ which is sung entirely in Swedish. Bobby has explained he expresses his music with sensitive sincerity, and through his songwriting, he searches for timeless melodies. On the other side, Sun and Moon Dance is known for channeling the raw emotions and energies of being human into his compositions.

The two artists come across as kindred spirits, so it makes sense that Bobby Sant is one of the few artists that Sun and Moon Dance has chosen to collaborate with. A interview from November of last year sheds some light as to why Chris Welsh, who is the Appalachians, US-based force behind Sun and Moon Dance, rarely works with other artists;

“My art is something sacred that is very special to me. I have to really trust someone’s magic and intent to allow them to enter that space alongside me.”

Thankfully, Bobby Sant passed the test, and like in his previous collabs with Sun and Moondance, the result is nothing short of breathtaking. ‘Föll’ is a track that carries a somber tone, with melodies that will keep your attention throughout. Simply put, ‘Föll’ is a song that will hit you both in your heart and head. One can only hope that these two will collaborate again in the future.

Unsurprisingly, Kurgan readers can listen to ‘Föll’ via Spotify’s Kurgan Compass™ neofolk playlist.