The Silver Falls
photo © Systendra/Kai Meyer 2008
artwork/illustration © Glenvore-Art 2008
Image © Curzweyhl 2008
The Fire of Glenvore (2004)
exclusive interview, album review, photos
band photo: Elane
photo © A Walther/N Fleczok 2008
artwork © Glenvore-Art 2008
Joran Elane (lead vocals)
photo © N. Fleczok 2008
artwork © Glenvore-Art 2008
Joran Elane (lead vocals)
photo © N. Fleczok 2008
artwork © Glenvore-Art 2008
Love Can't Wait
image © Kalinkaland Records 2004
Lore of Nén
image © Distinct Music (CMS) 2006
(18 October 2008) The German dark-folk (file under alternative/indie) band Elane release their third full length album entitled The Silver Falls (Curzweyhl (Germany), 35450942/EAN 402814 3509422, 2008) on 24 October 2008. The first pressing is a limited edition 6-panel digipak and includes one bonus song and a bonus 5.1 surround-mix. All that said, the band's newly appointed yet narrow minded label would not provide Musical Discoveries a promo. Therefore our review is based on mp3s kindly sent to us directly by the band.
Our first exposure to Elane was with their first album The Fires Of Glenvore (Kalinkaland Records (Germany) CD 94658-V22, 2004). Our feature includes an indepth and exclusive interview with Joran, and an accompanying album review. In 2005 a follow up to, or perhaps better said preview of, their second album entitled Love Can't Wait was released on Kalinkaland. Fans quickly scooped up the EP and raving reviews of the tracks, especially the rousing title track, featuring Joran's most dramatic and powerful vocal arrangement todate, drew even more attention to Elane. It seems that the band mysteriously switched labels and website URLs following the sellout of the limited run EP.
However the songs from the "Love Can't Wait" EP found their way onto the band's 19-track, 69+ minute second album entitled Lore of Nen (Distinct Music (Germany) DIS80022, 2006). About the album, also sold out, Sam Rosenthal from Projekt said, "It casts a spell over you and there's no escape! Elane's music is from another world, dark folk in a "Lord of the Rings" feeling with a stunning vocal princess Joran. This young and highly-motivated band creates their songs in an unbelievable greatest of ease which we've missed for such a long time in the ethereal music scene. And Elane sounds new, but all the same familiar, it's a music you will never forget. Their unique folk-wave with Heavenly Voices will send shivers down your spine! This is a promise!"
Elane is fronted by Joran Elane (lead vocals, high and low whistles) and rounded out by Skaldir (guitar, orchestral arrangements, vocals, percussion), Nico (keyboard, vocals, orchestral arrangements, programming, vocals), Katrin (violin, viola, vocals), Simon (volin, clarinet) and guest Neniel Tindómerel (guest soprano). Thorough readers will notice that Joran has added the second name "Elane" to her own. Read our interview to see Joran's response to the question "Who is Elane?" for more information.
From our sources, we understand that Lore of Nén was full of energy. A powerful, mighty orchestral sound marks the first notes. Then retreating into a familiar, atmospheric vocal ambience just to let the whitecaps dance again, as heard on "Journey." This is only the prelude to a new adventurous trip through the enchanted landscapes of Elane's fantastic world. The departure into another land, leaving home, not only in "The Night I Left," also in the real world Elane had to take leave. Lead singer Joran leaves the beloved Sauerland in Autumn 2005 and moves southwards. Thus, many of the songs heard on Lore of Nén are marked by yearning and the search for a new home, but also by wanderlust.
What is the meaning of Lore of Nén? It's a saga. "Nén" is the Quenya word for "Water". "The Saga of Water," you could also say. Linking both languages, English and Quenya, Tolkien‘s langague of the Elves, shows Elaine also strike new paths on a linguistic level.
Not every song is directly related to water (like "Nen ar Tasar," "Eyes of a Stranger" or "Pale Sea"). It‘s more about a life and a world in a constant state of flux. Never standing still, always going ahead. The song "On and On" is a good example therefore. So far, all of Elane's song lyrics had been written in English, but now there are also German and Quenya elements on "Lore of Nén," for example "Licht" ("Light") and "Nen ar Tasar" ("Water and Willow"). Also the soprano voice of guest musician Neniel Tindómerel lifts Elane's music onto yet another level. This diversified variety is the album‘s most important constitutional element.
It is a shame that, despite our requests, neither the band nor their label sent us the album for review. We understand that Lore of Nén, like the band's very first, is a very thematic project. And readers tell us that Neniel's harmony soprano vocal adds a soaring and enchanting gothic texture to the band's second album. Frequent visitors to Musical Discoveries confirm that there is a strong allusion to the longstanding heavenly vocals band Chandeen that can not be denied. Perhaps if we are eventually provided with a copy of the album to work with, an indepth editorial review can be offerred to our visitors.
With The Silver Falls, Elane make two remarkable statements. First, the album has returned to a more managable twelve track 48+ minute running time. A brief 3+ minute bonus track adds to the first pressing. Second, the band have again changed labels, yet again. This time to the German company, Curzweyhl. Production quality is set at the highest standard, orchestral and vocal arrangements are superb, and the album is very strong thematically. Joran's vocals are clear in the mix but perhaps less dominant than the band's two earlier albums.
Elane's sources are the deep forests of the Sauerland ("The Sour Lands"). The five musicians Joran, Skaldir, Nico, Katrin and Simon live in Western, Southern and Middle Germany. This album drops the soprano from their last album but add guest Andreas Hafner (drums and percussion). Consequently the gothic textures of the band's prior album have disappeared entirely. We can say with complete certainty the band have planted this new album in fertile progressive rock territory.
Elane's artists again blend the organic with orchestral and electronic sounds and their their trademark sound is evident from the opening to closing numbers. With Joran's fantastic female voice, acoustic and electronic guitars, violin and viola, soft sound scapes, drums and percussion, whistles as well as at times bombastic orchestral arrangements Elane creates their distinctive sound so that their music has enormous recognition. Elane are said to be glad to have a rapidly growing fan base, which is as colorful as hardly another one. It is indeed a mirror of the musical languages that Elane's songs speak.
Behind the album's name, The Silver Falls are impressingly beautiful waterfalls in the land of Glenvore, the fantastic home of Elane's music. One stream ends here, and another one, even more lively is born. But the image of a waterfall also marks the almost never ending creativity which flew into the songs. The Silver shows the brilliance of the tracks and their noble grace. Silver can be found in the lyrics of the songs "Silverleaf," "Paperboat & Silverkite" and "Elfennacht."
Elane's music uses celtic underpinnings to spin progressive rock arrangements. Like Clannad, Capercaillie and Iona, electric guitars join whistles, violins and a powerful rhythm section to create their sound. From the opening track "Open The Gates," it is the emergence of electric guitar and more powerful drums and percussion that makes tracks on The Silver Falls stand up above Elane's earlier music. The memorable verse-chorus track "Elfennacht," offerred as a sample prior to the album's release, is sweetly delivered in German by Joran. Harmony vocals in the chorus perfectly accompany the instrumental arrangement.
The Silver Falls has a good share of gentler tracks that serve to demonstrate the contrasts within the band's sound and the individual players' virtuousity. Lead vocals are self-harmonized most effectively in "Silverleaf." "Amber Falls" is a gentle violin-led ballad; Joran's solo lead evocatively delivers the lyrical message with very light self-harmony layers in the background. Rhythmic percussion works great offsetting whistle and violin underneath crystalline male and female vocals in the upbeat track "Paperboat and Silverkite." Katrin's violin and vocal work pave the way in the celtically acoustic ballad entitled "The Emerald Princess."
The album's musical theme is echoed again in "The Land Through Your Eyes." Sung as a rousing duet between Skaldir and Joran and layered with her lovely harmonies is clearly one of the album's most memorable standouts. A stunning violin and guitar solo contribute to the song's great sound. In another evolution, the band explores the blend of violin and electronica in the first of the "Crimson Lullaby" pieces "The Weight of the World." Joran's sweetest vocals work well against the instrumental backdrop. In the accompanying standout piece, "The Dreamer," a more rousing instrumental, again combining violin and electronica, is woven between Skaldir's vocals and Joran's.
Layers of haunting vocals and light keyboard washes set up "My Promised Land," Joran's powerful lead vocal delivered above the band's backing vocals in this rhythmic electric guitar- and drum-based piece. "Enchanment" is a delightful duet sung between Joran and Katrin atop percussive arrangements and progressive style keyboards in the run up to the album's crescendo. The final song before the bonus track is entitled "One Last Time." The album's musical theme is subdued but clearly present. A heartfelt ballad, Joran delivers the evocative lyrical message sensually. Backing harmonies, Skaldir's duet and the haunting violin part contribute a great texture to the album's "proper" conclusion.
Wonderfully sung by Skaldir with only backing vocals by Joran and Katrin, the bonus track "Three Roses" is somehwat uncharacteristic as compared to the rest of the album. No less enjoyable, the accessible folky acoustic guitar and whistle-backed duet has a memorable melody and is appropriately placed as a bonus to leave the listener on a high note, especially compared with the seriousness of the album's concluding thematic number "One Last Time."
Besides the well-known folk elements of Elane's first two albums, The Silver Falls has stronger and more accentuated electronic sounds, fine dark wave backgrounds as well as a little touch of melodic rock, a quantum of world music and some heavenly voices parts. The album is bound together by a fine orchestral sound, which is leading through the album, just like a leitmotif. In this variety of genres and deeper atmospheres the band unifies their enchanting sounds almost constantly with drums and percussion. Elane sustain an active MySpace site where music from the band's prior and current albums is streamed for listeners to sample.
Elane continue to build their sound and progress from strength to strength. The Silver Falls, the third album in the Glenvore series, is not only well produced and well arranged but firmly plants the band's music in progressive rock territory. Joran's powerful voice is more seriously contrasted by others in the lineup, especially in the most effectively arranged album's duets. While an American release is not yet forecasted, the album will be available as a German import from Projekt. Strongly thematic,
right-lengthed and immediately recongizable as Elane, the stunning new album is a major progression from the band's debut!