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Various Artists - Europa Aeterna (Heimdallr compilation)

Europa Aeterna commemorates six years of activity from the Franco-Swiss webzine Heimdallr, who focussed on neo-folk and related musical fields. The exclusive contributions from the nine acts (with the exception of Camerata Sforzesca who offer a live excerpt) revolve around interpretations of the Heimdallr motto "Europa Aetrena". Naturally that acts are all closely entwined with variations of the neo-folk genre. While Angels Watch offer the plaintive strum of 'Utopia' with Dev's gruff voice telss of Europe's battles and struggles. Its reprise thorugh battlefield sounds, martial drumming to orchestration acts as a lament for Europa. Lady Morphia are as erudite as ever. The romantic goth-folk of 'In Ewigkeit' is constructed from ringing acoustic guitar and melodic tin whistle with the lyrics a combination of English and German. Lady Morphia are the sincere, stern young sons of Europe. There's a richness in the melody of 'Friendship - Adrago Beach' from the German outfit Dies Natalis. Male and female voices converge over chiming acoustic pluck and strum with a soft neo-classical reprise. There's a strong sense of traditional folk music in the vocal delivery and this is, by far, the most accessible of the contributions found on Europa Aeterna. 'Torn Nation' from Darkwood is a solemn affair with a precise almost spoken delivery, a string ensemble and ethereal female vocals embellishing the piece with finesse. Side 1 closes with the dark malancholia of Sonne Hagal, with atypical neo-folk cloaked in percolating electronics and ritual atmospheres.

The second side foregoes the generic neo-folk slound for a number of acts pursuing a more singular approach. The Italian ensemble Camerata Sforzesca provide a most baroque offering, where a cluster of operatic voices soar over majestic keyboards and spartan percussion culled from a Winter Solstice celebration. It's followed by the refined sounds of Decadence that switches between orchestral passages and acoustic folk. It's refined and mature and slips effortlessly into a classical romantic tradition. Ritual electronics from the Portuguese outfit Karnnos and dark industrial ambient from the cult Russian trio Reutoff close the album.

Europa Aeterna is a fitting epitaph to Heimdallr, which recently announced their intention to cease all activities. As an entry into the neo-folk scene it's a solid release and certainly more cohesive than the sprawling Looking For Europe 4 CD set. Europa Aeterna is available on black audiophile vinyl in an edition of 500 copies, with cover photography by Peter Bengsten. The cult status of many of the contributors will ensure this release on the Autre Que label will only be available for a short time. For more information go to