AINULINDALE - The Lay of Leithian - CDR - 10 tracks - 2004 - Eye For Eye / Cynfeirdd

Our faithful readers will no doubt remember the warm reception we gave to the demo of this new neofolk project hailing from the southern French Alps. An opinion shared by Cynfeirdd, who have released 'The Lay of Leithian' as a part of the limited Eye For Eye series dedicated to the discovery of new and promising artists. And Engwar, the composer, guitarist and singer of this more or less solo-project, certainly fits the picture.

As suggested by the title, 'The Lay of Leithian' is a concept album based on Engwar's personal interpretation of one of J.R.R. Tolkien's short stories taken from the Silmarillion. With each song illustrating an important episode of Beren's epic quest to earn the hand of his beloved Leithian.

Ainulindale's songs are based on the intricate and delicate melodies of the acoustic guitars and Engwar's haunting low-voiced spoken words, to which are added a violin, a viola, a double bass, a cello, a flute and percussions to create a superb neofolk/neoclassic album. If Engwar plays all the guitars and provides the low-key vocals that haunt the compositions, the rest of the instruments are real and were played by his friends from the 'Conservatoire de Musique'. Needless to say, this detail adds a timeless organic feeling to the music that could never have been reproduced by machines. The songs also demonstrate Engwar's keen sense of composition as the subtle and sparse instrumentation serves perfectly the dynamics of each composition. Indeed, this term seems the most appropriate here, as each track encompasses a flow of shifting atmospheres, melancholic and moody neoclassical passages, timeless and dreamy folk melodies and tense, heroic percussion-lead moments that literally enthral the listeners imagination...

As can be expected of a first album, some influences can be heard here or there, but these are not glaringly obvious and are more like faint and pleasant impressions of a familiar style, that give a good indication of the artist's musical vision.

An excellent first release.

Ian C.
Spring 2004

Ainulindale :
Cynfeirdd :