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Maria W Horn & Sara Parkman: Funeral Folk (digital, XKatedral, July 2022)

I was dead into Maria W Horn’s 2019 album Epistasis, which was a fantastic bit of minimalism with influences ranging from black metal to Arvo Pärt. Fellow Swede Sara Parkman is a folk musician who describes herself as a mix of “Vikings and Berghain”. You can imagine I was excited to hear this collaboration.

Reader, I was not disappointed. I kind of fell in love with this album on the basis of the first track, Evighetens Sommar, which blends messed-up folk (there’s a beautiful yearning fiddle line) with drone (I think some of this this might originate with a hurdy-gurdy) and a Swedish voice (Parkman’s?) intoning something suitably funereal (I guess, anyway: for all I know it might be her shopping list, but it has strong Roy Andersson vibes for me), all brought together with some wonderfully atmospheric production.

To be honest, I would have happily listened to forty minutes of this. But it gets better. About a third of the way into the second track, Till Margaretha, a great big doom-metal guitar crashes in, and a kind of church-organ counterpoint. Then about two-thirds of the way in they throw a sawing classical violin line and an Officially Epic vocal into the mix. (This reminds me of that Sunn O))) record with Anna von Hausswolff, for what it’s worth.) My little mind is, by this point, thoroughly blown.

The album isn’t all quite this immense, which is probably for the best given how giddy I just got. Two charming numbers (it would seem demeaning to call them palate cleansers), Lacrimosa and Mementomori, sandwich the slow burner of the Kyrie which is frankly unhinged by the end. And the ten-minute closing number, Hornlaten, is everything you (okay, I) could want it to be, brooding but restrained.

I don’t know if you’d noticed, but this is right up my street, and it’s done with passion and artistry, and I think it’s just bloody brilliant.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Dark Ambient / Drone / Metal.

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