(26 February 2011) A significant artistic development by Elane, formerly recognized as a German dark-folk (file under alternative/indie) band, is the release of their fourth full length, and now very progressive album entitled Arcane (Curzweyhl (Germany), 2011). Gorgeous artwork adorns the digipak and 16-page full color booklet that accompanies the 15-track 55-minute long CD. The album combines extremely well produced folk, celtic, middle-eastern and rock arrangements with solo and harmony layers from the band's stunning lead vocalist Joran.
Elane's roots are in the deep forests of the German Sauerland. The characteristic mixture of organic and electronic sounds has become their trademark. The amazing voice of lead singer Joran Elane as well as acoustic and electric guitars, violin, viola, cello, gentle soundscape, percussion and bombastic orchestral arrangements create the band's distinctive sound.
Elane's fourth album is built on three musical pillars. Listeners will recognize the medieval-folkloristic foundation of Elane. Next, world music contributes increasingly to the sound of the new album. Finally, progressive rock is more restrained in comparison to The Silver Falls to emphasize the folkloristic impression of Arcane. The album has been released in Europe but is not generally available in North America at this writing.
Elane's ground-breaking first album The Fires Of Glenvore (Kalinkaland Records (Germany) CD 94658-V22, 2004) (review) was followed up by the Love Can't Wait EP. A 19-track, 69+ minute second album incorporating the EP's tracks is entitled Lore of Nen (Distinct Music (Germany) DIS80022, 2006). Elane continued to develop their sound significantly and released a third album, The Silver Falls (Curzweyhl (Germany), 35450942/EAN 402814 3509422, 2008) (review). The album was the band's first collaboration with Kai Meyer.
Elane is fronted by Joran Elane (lead vocals, tin- and low-whistles, harp). The lineup also includes Skaldir (guitars, bass, voice, percussion orchestral arrangements), Nico (keyboards, voice, programming) and Simon (violin, viola, cello). Marina Hasselberg (cello) guests on "My Ivory Fairy" and "Goddess of the Night." All songs are inspired by the works of Kai Meyer (website).
The music of Arcane is inspired by the works of Kai Meyer, a German author that has published almost 50 books since 1993, including best selling Dark Reflections and The Wave Walkers trilogies. Elane's collaboration with Kai Meyer began after meeting in 2006 at a concert. "Kai Meyer’s novels were captivating me since many years. He brings it off to attract his readers always anew with extraordinary characters and unexpected twists. Working with Kai now is a great honor," says keyboard player Nico Steckelberg.
"The many facets of his stories were impressing me from the beginnings! Composing with the inspiration through his books is a complete new approach for us," explains singer Joran. "Kai’s themes go excellent with the atmosphere of Elane-songs. We look forward to the new challenge in composing music to existing stories," says guitarist Skaldir. "By now the progress and creation power during the songwriting is impressive.“ adds Joran.
Kai Meyer says, "I have always been an admirer of music based on a book – already in the 70s with Bo Hanssons album Lord of the Rings. I am very pleased about having Elane – whom I appreciate very much musically as well as personally – making my stories to something special."
Arcane themes are delivered both musically and lyrically. A short atmospheric instrumental entitled "The Gift" opens the album. Joran's powerful vocal passage leads "Heart of the Desert," illustrating her expanded range in this perfect opening number. Production quality is evident in the acoustic guitar, keyboard and percussion arrangements. Listen for the treatment of bass drum throughout the recording. The middle eastern texture of the "Samarkand" instrumental makes it the first track on the album to expand Elane's sound into world music. Joran's powerful and expansive vocalise is especially delightful.
The album's production quality is especially evident in the standout title track "Arcane Ride," drawing on Elane's past, combining folk with progressive arrangements and multi-layered harmonies supporting Joran's lead. Transitions between the passages are smooth and delicately arranged. Album standout "Magdalena" builds on a similar theme blending folk with progressive arrangements. Choir textures support Joran's stunning lead and harmonies in the chorus. Memorable sting-based instrumental breaks contribute to the overall sound.
Arcane includes tracks with English, German and Latin lyrics. "Wasser Und Fels" and Die geheime Melodie are both German-titled folk-style instrumentals with powerful whistle parts, strong string arrangements. "Wasser Und Fels" also showcases Joran's exquisite vocalise. Marina's first cello appearance is on the album's standout "My Ivory Fairy," sung by Joran in both German and English. Delicate strings and percussion perfectly support the verse while rich band arrangements add volume to the chorus.
A low whistle introduction and vocalise lead the mysterious "Abendruf," sung entirely in German. Harmony vocal layers demonstrate Joran's expansive range. The English lyric track "Lurlinnight" builds on the familiar acoustic guitar-based style of the band's last album. It perfectly adjoins "Spinnenhaus," a Celtic-styled string-based instrumental and the rich progressive texture of the Latin lyric "Deae Noctis." Listen here for the rich strings, deep bass drum and a profound guitar solos in the stunning production. Joran's vocalise soars in the background. Concluding this run of tracks is "Dämmertal," a string-based folk instrumental.
"Masken" is the only track sung with Nico's lead. Additional male vocal harmonies contribute to the sung passages atop dark string arrangement. Arcane concludes with stunning track "Goddess of the Night." Joran is backed by her own and other member harmony vocals in a complex collection of duets and powerful instrumental passages. The track blends all that the band have done before with their newest sound in this triumphant conclusion.
Elane have clearly built on their strength and will expand their following with this new project. In collaboration with Kai Meyer,
Arcane has been a highly anticipated album and has been in the making for the past two years. It was most certainly certainly worth the wait. Bravo!