The Withered Leaves
As always, the impressive work on the record cover. Reaping Horde is the only label I know that pays so much attention to its releases, with such originality, as much researched as bearer of symbols. The record is hidden in a black silk wrapping, mischievously filled with strands of straw, creating a tiny cavity inside which lies the album of Once A Barge, a German formation. “The Withered Leaves” is their first album and has just been released. The music is strongly anchored in the dark folk tradition(s) as wall as its themes of predilection. We renew with acoustic guitar, martial percussions, the dark and displaced atmosphere, so dark that the mind reminisces the dark periods of 80’s new wave, similar to formations such as Joy Division or Pink Turns Blue, or even the first Death in June albums. The coldness of the tracks comes forth mainly through the massive and evanescent use of keyboards and drum machines. Although there are some weak points here and there, that can be seen as some youthful sin, on the whole the album remains coherent and convincing, possessing a skin deep melancholy, filled with a regenerating and welcome nostalgia. One hears with pleasure the tortured delights of early Sol Invictus, especially the superb O Ruina. The tracks give an impression of intrinsic and epic strength, remote and deep, pernicious and intoxicating and whose imaged invocations remind the dark designs of the cult World Serpent formations, with revealing song titles such as Ring Stone, Winter Snow of Farewell, Rose Garden, Wutanes Her, Afterworld or Under A Withered Tree.
A successful beginning with a generous album for a most promising formation.

Stéphane Fivaz

November 2000

Translation Ian C.


Contact, informations and orders :
Reaping Horde
Apartado 101
5401-909 Chaves
e-mail : horde@portugalmail.com

Band's contact  :
Once A barge
Antonius Franck
Im Spreen 11
59846 Sundern