Yes it is an odd word and apparently means “(in the UK) a subdivision of certain northern and midland English counties, corresponding to a hundred in other counties.” As far as musical origins are concerned 1st port of call is Hampshire and a now defunct UK black thrash band called Cultfinder. You may well remember them from a demo and a couple of EP’s that they released before splitting up and a couple of members going off and forming burly doom merchants Witchsorrow. Guitarist and vocalist of the aforementioned cult Rob Belial appearing here under the name Hreodbeohrt has now gone and put together his own solo project Wapentake and it’s very far removed from any of the other previously mentioned bands, going down a more acoustic, ambient and folkish route. There’s no shortage of extreme musicians wanting to show their softer side at the moment, even arch Satanist Nergal has recently surprised and wowed us with his bluesy counterpoint Me And That Man and this is no exception to that rule. It also allows Hreodbeohrt to completely go it alone and work at fleshing out his own personal ideas.
Murmurations is a good description as although formed in their own right these 8 tracks could also be looked at as ideas and “murmurings” that serve as interludes and reflective pieces rather than long fully-fleshed tracks. Putting them together works well though and for anyone looking for a chilled out 25 minute listening experience this will do the job nicely. ‘Firewood’ crackles into form as a gentle piece of guitar-work melodically relaxing around a campfire and leaving the listener looking into the night sky cosmos and looking at the stars in wonder. It’s unhurried and far removed from the modern trappings of life, quite beautiful with it too as it naturistically transports to another place and time. ‘Harvest’ gathers crops the natural way in a land with no machinery and has plenty of atmosphere within dulcet tones, transporting to a bygone time whereas ‘The Harrowing’ trickles along to the sounds of a babbling brook, guitar becoming slightly more strident in plucked tone and mood expanding with thunder rattling in the distance and a neo-folk sounding accompaniment of tambourine as it weathers the approaching storm and goes into a jaunty refrain.
Black metal is mentioned and indeed these pieces could all comfortably sit within the framework of music by bands such as Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone and of course bands such as Nechochwen, Atriarch and many within the Cascadian scene. Indeed with the clean vocal parts of ‘Saxon Pastoral’ it certainly takes you off to such vistas and lands imbibing you with the very spirit of the earth itself. Wind whistles as the solitary quest of ‘The Hermit’ sees him getting his own lilting guitar theme, travelling over weathered lands and not seeing any other signs of humanity for days on end and actually going out of his way to avoid them when they do. For a scant brief moment of music it’s totally expressive and great to dream along to as is the twittering birdsong accompanying the medieval sounding pagan spirit of ‘Ytene.’ ‘Murmuration’ itself is one of the most complete songs with a slow tapped drum beat accompanying an evocative melody that could easily fit in a film soundtrack as pioneering spirit sees wagon trains rolling onward in the dusty trail of the bible belt, preaching their way ever forward on a mission to save souls and find their own redemption. Finishing with ‘Memorial’ there’s almost a post-rock intro here that could well be the start of a song by Solstafir and steam across an icy terrain; well that’s the impression I get although this is where we leave it to fade like a ghost in the night.
I really enjoyed the heartfelt simplicity within this, on 1st play I thought it was going to be near impossible to write much about it but it got my juices flowing due to its own compulsive creativity. Hopefully it is something that can be expanded upon in the future but the seeds are certainly planted here.
(7/10 Pete Woods)