Ten Folk Albums Which Inspired Of Hearth & Home’s “Songs Of Love & Warmth”
As a metal musician, Rob Allen follows Thoreau. In Encircling Sea and Vaiya, he abandons civilization and meditates on nature’s wonder and might through blackened metal’s atmosphere and valor. However, there is always a spark, a personal touch to Allen’s music which shows human warmth beneath the animal element of his music. In his folk (or neofolk, take your pick) project Of Hearth & Home, Allen celebrates the beauty of human interconnection — relationships, family, and childbearing (especially indicated by the album cover). Songs of Love & Warmth, out tomorrow, October 31st (the Solstice), on Chet W. Scott’s Glass Throat Recordings, is enraptured by the beauty to which its own title refers, and the delicate, heartfelt music held within unveils Robert Allen without his wolven skin. In this playlist, he offers insight into what music, specifically folk and neofolk [Editor’s Note: Allen includes some of my favorite works, as well], fueled Of Hearth & Home’s touching debut.
Secret Corridors Lay Outside the Walls
Adam Casey, the sole musician of The Boy Who Spoke Clouds, is a dear friend of mine, and a true savant. He is so full of life and creativity that being in his presence cannot but yield inspiration. This was the case instantly for me upon meeting Adam, we connected on many levels spoken and not, and for this reason I wanted to record the Of Hearth & Home album nowhere else but with him. The album would not be what it is without his guidance, support and genius.
This fact was only exacerbated when I invited Adam to perform a The Boy Who Spoke Clouds set on a bill with my band Encircling Sea. Having not seen him perform before this, I knew not what to expect, but was eager to see him perform a solo multi-instrument set like an avant-garde one-man band. I was not disappointed, in actuality; I was thoroughly moved as he performed a rendition of this album. Pure ecstatic trance is only way I could describe what I saw and felt. This album was the second release on my little label, Natural World, and I couldn’t be prouder or luckier to have released it.
Light the Fires!
From the moment this record begun I was transported into a timeless void, where the spirits of my ancestors danced around the eternal flame of life. This is the feeling that Light The Fires! gave to me as a gift and it helped me go through a huge personal transformation. At a time when I had relocated my life to a vastly different environment, hundreds of miles away from my family to start a new life with my wife as she was about to give birth to our son.
This time was full of joy and everything was new and wonderful, but at the same time it was very daunting, and I was struggling to grasp onto everything that was happening and wrestling with the profundity of what this new life was to entail. I was now a father and what did that mean? Well, it meant I had to connect not only to the present and that which is new, but particularly connect with the past, my past. The generations before me give me a deeper connection to the present and truly show me what being a husband and father would mean. Light The Fires helped me understand that in a way that I am truly thankful for.
This album is really something else. On paper it seems so daunting and laborious, two CDs of purely acoustic music with song lengths longer than most albums today, no thanks I imagine most would say. And it does take some time to truly understand its greatness, but when it is revealed, the Earth will open up and embrace you within its bosom. Fearthainne is THE reason I decided to start writing an acoustic album. Before I connected with this album I played a lot of acoustic guitar, but never with such focussed intent on creating something so deliberate. The power of this album is in repetition and its intent. These songs are ritual and if you give yourself over to them, you will experience some of the powerful magic within. I found it so utterly grounding, I listened to this record at least once a day when I first came upon it, that it was like my daily meditation, guided by this music, I had to do it in order to feel on track with the day. As this album is purely acoustic and given my obsession with it I was naturally drawn to picking up my acoustic guitar and playing with layered arpeggios and drone like acoustic strumming, this was a natural attraction too as black metal is based on a similar foundation. I have connected with members of Fearthainne on numerous occasions but I don’t think I ever have explicitly said how much this album means to me, so I will say it here. Thank you.
Moss & Memory
Now under the moniker, Cycle of the Raven Talons, Ruhr Hunter is another project of Chet W. Scott, the man behind Blood of the Black Owl and Glass Throat Recordings, the label that my album will be released on and from which so much of my inspirational music comes from, as you may have noticed. Moss & Memory is album of ancient sounds and transcendental songs crafted from acoustic and primitive instruments. The sounds on this record, let alone the intent of the songs themselves, are something to inspire awe. I spent a great deal of time, when crafting the first songs for Of Hearth & Home, sitting in the afternoon sun with Moss & Memory playing in the background whilst pondering the meaning of things. Chet has since become someone I would call a brother, albeit still a virtual one at this point, but that will change one day, and I cannot thank him enough for his music, inspiration and friendship.
If I Should Fall To The Field
I feel like I could leave this section blank and you would understand why this record in on this list.
Steve Von Till’s solo albums are, at least in my humble opinion, the best musical output he creates. They will be records that in a generation or more our children, or their children, will look back to as an inspiration. His music is timeless perfection.
Whether I knew it or not, this record has got to be one of the bigger influences on my lyrical output for Of Hearth & Home. I wanted to write songs of a deeply personal and intimate nature that connected with something real and tangible like my family, ancestors and the land I am from. Von Till offers a very poetic rendition of that idea. Songs of the heart, and of the hearth, songs about his place in life, in both the physical and spiritual sense.
Kim Larsen can do no wrong in my opinion. Whether it is Martial Industrial (Vril Jäger) or funeral doom (Black Wreath), I love it all. But this project in particular really holds my heart, the melodies on this album are otherworldly and dreamlike, they transport to the field full of sunshine under the shady bough of an old tree as a gentle breeze blows on your face. Music that calls in the spirits or transports you into nature is the music I am drawn to listen to and make, this album is a beautiful example of the transcendental effect that music can have.
There are few albums so exquisitely crafted as this. The melodies are just so beautiful and delicate. Like most of the artists on this list, Birch Book’s B’eirth is involved in multiple projects and a man of many talents with a penchant for making beautiful and sincere music.
I remember so vividly the day I first heard this record, I was driving home very late one night from an Encircling Sea rehearsal and it was a 3 hour drive that night to get home. A dear friend had recently given me a copy of this record and I had yet to listen to it, so driving home I thought what better time to really enjoy n album, and I listened to it three times back to back.
Tenhi claim to open the doors between worlds with their music and such claims can often seem dramatic, over emphasised stagecraft in order to appeal to a certain demographic, a trick of the trade if you will. It’s not in this case. I truly believe music to be the connection to the spirit world that our ancestors knew so well, a world we have vastly lost contact with and understanding of. A world that, in these times of disconnection from everything meaningful and traditional, we so easily can focus on the gimmick, on the tag line, the click bait that gets our attention for a moment and then it’s gone and who cares, it means nothing, on to the next thing. This album is challenging, some days I love it and others I find hard to tolerate, those days are days I am more the modern individual man of nothing, and I don’t deserve to connect with so, it doesn’t let me. Find peace with that which is old, traditional, magical, spiritual and challenging. Tenhi will grant you safe passage on your journey.
Sangre de Muerdago
I come from punk rock background musically; my formative years were all about punk. I view my musical journey as a progression toward truth, towards the essence of the ancient musical soul within your blood. I feel that maybe I share that with Pablo from Sangre de Muerdago. I loved and still love his punk bands, especially Ekkaia, and feel like this project retains that same spirit in a way. I love not only how beautiful and brilliant this music, but also how unique it is within this modern neo-folk scene, if I can even call it that. We are finding more and more that musicians are fusing their background in punk or metal with the traditions of their ancestors and connecting to something very old and very specific to their heritage. This is no better illustrated than in Pablo’s music.
There could not be a more grounded musical offering, timid yet robust, delicate yet vibrant, Novemthree make pure folk music. As said before, I gravitate towards truly sincere and intimate music. Music of a deep personal nature that sacrifices nothing for glory, it is what it is and lays it all bare. Novemthree do that so very well. This album is so simple yet it is layered with delicate intricacies and nothing is ever overdone, yet it is always fully realised and the song structures are so cathartic. Aside from the tremendous performances on this record, the song structures are something that greatly inspired me as a musician. I do not subscribe to the mentality of surprise song writing or anticlimactic song structures, I feel that you should follow the idea through to its end, whether long or short, you should fully realise the idea and provide yourself as the writer, above all else, the true liberation of that emotion.
When it is my time to perish
Lay my body upon the altar
Offer my flesh to the ravens
A woven platter of fruit
Carve a niche deep in the barrow
Adorned with wild flowers
Arrange my bones within the hollow
Face my skull to the north
Come those who loved me
Light candles and sing
Sing of beauty, sing of life
Sing of beauty, sing of death…