2019 / Wood, Wind & Wire Productions
Review by Kathy Parsons
Has it really been seven years since Erwilian released their previous album (2012’s stellar Light From Darkness)? No wonder Advent debuted at #1 on Billboard’s New Age chart this past September! We all missed hearing from this amazing Seattle-based group of musicians whose unique combination of all-acoustic instrumentation, the virtuosity of each member of the group, and the exciting arrangements of traditional and original music are always fresh and new! Advent is the beginning of a new chapter for Erwilian. Quoting founding band member Jordan Buetow: “We set out to create a new kind of ‘new age’ - our own brand of the genre we love.” With several new band members, all of whom play several instruments, Erwilian’s sound is even richer and more complex yet always accessible. This EP consists of six tracks, several of which are medleys of traditional and original holiday music. Each piece also celebrates a different facet of the band’s signature orchestrations with melodies led by violin, soprano recorder, and hammered dulcimer. Other instrumentation includes harp, celesta, guitar, harmonium, mandolin and percussion. I also need to mention the beautiful CD package with its laser-cut pictures of some of the instruments. It opens up to six panels and closes to show drumsticks, a violin and a recorder as well as the title of the album. The whole thing slides into a clear slipcase that protects the intricate cover and lists all of the songs in the medleys, the instrumentation, and who played what. It’s one of the most impressive CD packages I’ve seen in a while!
Advent begins with “Wexford,” a piece that combines the traditional “Wexford Carol” with the original “Weiseforthe Fugue.” It begins quietly with the beautiful but somewhat sedate Carol and then segues into the gently rhythmic Fugue. “Whiteout” is an original piece by founding band member Scott Melton that features Jordan Buetow on soprano recorder. Spritely and joyful with a few jazz touches here and there, it’s a wonderful piece that defies genre categorization. “Carol of the Bells” is a piece that adapts wonderfully to a wide variety of musical styles, and this one features three band members on hammered dulcimer backed by chimes, handbells, guitar, mandolin, bass, drums and percussion. Lively and exciting! “Animaux: La Creche” is a poignant and hauntingly beautiful arrangement of “The Friendly Beasts.” It segues into “Animaux: La Faune,” a medley of the traditional “Burgundian Carol” and the original “La Foret Chante” - enchanting! “Nova” is a medley of three traditional pieces: “Westminster Quarters,” “Il est ne’” and “Sussex Mummers’ Carol.” It’s an excellent close to an excellent album!
Advent is available from Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and Bandcamp. Don’t miss it!
December 5, 2019