Welcome to (Pagan) Music Mondays, a new semi-regular feature here at The Wild Hunt! As many of you may know, I’m a lover of music, and have spent many years exploring albums and artists that appeal to the Pagan spirit. I’d like to expose you to new releases by Pagan artists, and also to bands that explore lyrical themes relevant to our worldviews. This week I’d like to look at Monica Richard’s new EP “The Strange Familiar” and “Mohalepte,” the new album by The Moon and the Nightspirit.
Just about everyone who’s traveled the overlaps between modern Paganism and the Goth subculture have heard of Monica Richards, and it would be fair to say that a large number of those individuals are fans of her work. One half of the classic darkwave duo Faith and The Muse, a band which won over many Pagan hearts with deep lyrical explorations of myth and mysticism, they tackled everything from Celtic mythology to songs from “The Wicker Man.” In 2007 Monica Richards began her own solo musical project. Entitled “InfraWarrior,” it went even deeper into themes like pantheism, Gaia, myth cycles, women as goddesses, and as warriors. It’s a triumph of an album, and quickly became one of my favorites, so I was very excited when I heard that Monica Richards would be releasing a new album, “Naiades,” scheduled for this Fall. To whet our appetites for the new album, she has created a teaser EP, “The Strange Familiar,” featuring four new songs and a dance remix of a song from her previous solo album.
This new EP showcases a sonic shift from her first solo outing. This is partly due to the participation of Steven James and Marzia Rangel from the art-rock/deathrock band Christ vs. Warhol, and partly due to a hinted-at dramatic life shift. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of myth and spiritual exploration to be found here, “The Mighty” is a seven-minute dramatic piece that implores the listener to “believe in me, and I’ll take you with me.” In addition, we get a beautiful impromptu live voice and violin piece recorded in a cave with former Changelings violinist Paul Mercer. Fans of Richards’ work with Faith and The Muse should be in pleasingly familiar territory here, while those accustomed to the more tribal sound of her first solo album should find plenty to enjoy as well.
“The Strange Familiar” admirably does the job of whetting the listener’s appetite for the new album, while existing as a satisfying short work that stands on its own. You can order “The Strange Familiar” from Monica Richard’s website, or you can purchase a digital download from Amazon or CD Baby. You may also want to check out some live footage from her recent solo performance at the 2011 Wave Gotik Treffen festival in Germany.
Another band who performed at Wave Gotik Treffen this year was the Hungarian Pagan band The Moon and The Nightspirit. Their new album, “Mohalepte,” is yet another strong entry from Agnes Toth and Mihaly Szabo, who have carved out a place for themselves in Europe’s Pagan-folk scene, joining increasingly well-known names like Faun and Omnia. Since 2005’s “Of Dreams Forgotten and Fables Untold” the band have delved ever deeper into their own language and culture, inviting listeners into “the moss-grown heart of the forest, into the emerald world of ageless, sylvan realms.” They’ve dubbed their evolving sound as “ethereal sylvan music,” an aesthetic you can hear on songs like the title track:
Their latest album also marks the band striking out on their own, amicably leaving longtime label Equilibrium Music. “Mohalepte” can, for now, only be ordered directly from the band’s website. Though you can easily download their first three albums: “Of Dreams Forgotten and Fables Untold”, “Regõ Rejtem”, and “Osforras” from places like Amazon. The Moon and the Nightspirit is a band filled with a magical, rustic energy, as evidenced by their live performances, part of a strong Pagan musical culture in Europe that has been nurtured by a vibrant festival scene. It makes me envious of what could be here in our own festival culture. There are hints of it in events like Faerieworlds, but we’re a long way from being able to support a Castlefest, let alone several similar happenings. Still, I’m optimistic, and while I can’t afford to experience the European Pagan folk scene first-hand, I can experience excellent albums like “Mohalepte.”
That’s it for this week’s (Pagan) Music Mondays! I hope you enjoyed it. I haven’t quite decided what I’ll cover next week, but I’m sure it’ll satisfy your Pagan music longings.