“Covering for Solace", a debut album of a Königsberg-based band "Sunset Wings", is a widely opened window to the world of neo-folk music. Inspired by pearls of English romantic poetry together with traditional ballads of the British isles and the art of Pre-Raphaelites as well, this album takes you to a marvelous journey in the land of children dreams, sweet sorrow and melancholy. Silver strings of acoustic guitars and tender violin, deep cello
sounds and warm flute, harmonica, brilliant piano, brightly sparkling percussion and music-boxes create a golden setting for the gems of William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Lovell Beddoes.. Lulled by Kipling's "White Seal" and gentle MacManus' "Softly now the Burn is Rushing", you will be dipped into a sleep together with nature in Rossetti's "Proserpine", feel the inexpressible sorrow of the loss of a lover in his
"Death-Parting" and John Gay's "Ballad". Falling leaves and snow cover the earth, waving trees speak with a breeze.. Would the echo sigh Farewell? Whom should we pray now? And should we?
But nevertheless the flowers are dying, pure souls are on their path to the immortal light, and melancholy is perceived as a possibility to create a beauty around us. Despite the sorrow of lyrics the music of this album more often is rather bright and fulfilled with sweet nostalgic melancholy, it should bring solace and serenity to the tired hearts. "Covering for Solace" is a river of caressing tenderness, the river of enchanting melodies that flows "amid the beaming of love's stars" to the sea of Harmony under the eastern sky..
With it's particular sound and temper, "Sunset Wings" will definitely take it's place among famous Russian dark-folk bands, such as "Neutral" and "Romowe Rikoito" (some of "Romowe Rikoito" musicians were invited to take part in this record). All the fans enchanted by the musical craft of Mr. Michael Cashmore won't be dissapointed as well.
Comes in a 4 panel Digipack with 12 pages booklet including all the lyrics and charming paintings by Natalia Krutcina.
Total time: 59:21
Release time: 3rd April 2009 r.
Reviews in magazines and press:
Coming from Kalingrad / Russia (before 1945 the city was part of the Eastern Prussian Kingdom and was named Königsberg), Sunset Wings are bringing to the attention of folk music lovers their first full length release titled COVERING FOR SOLACE. Using as lyrics, poems of William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Lovell Beddoes the band succeed into creating a romantic/melancholic atmosphere where acoustic guitars, cello, violins, flutes, piano, harmonica and bright percussion sounds are enjoyed by male and female duets. The band is really good at composing songs where the different elements merge with ease. The music flows from the speakers cradling the listeners. Musically inspired by traditional ballads of the British isles and the art of Pre-Raphaelites, Sunset Wings are band you'll be glad to check if you are into the genre. Review by: Maurizio Pustianaz
The Neofolk genre can often be misconceived as a narrow niche in the pantheon of folk music that typically marries traditional folk instrumentation with a darker, contemporary and adventurous experimental approach and that, lyrically, often seeks to rediscover a bygone age or expounds treatises on a lost and long lamented Imperium. An Imperium, incidentally, that probably exists more in the contemporary mind than in any past reality. The more you are prepared to immerse yourself in Neofolk’s dark waters the more you begin to realise that this murky genre is a broad umbrella that shelters everything from avant-garde, contemporary folk imbued with experimental meanderings and dark ambient atmospheres at one end of the spectrum to a purer more traditional sounding acoustically driven folk at the other end, albeit with a modern retelling. As with any genre if you are prepared to navigate a course around some of the more tired, weary and clichéd acts the territory in between is occupied by all manner of wonderful folk tinged interpretations and experimentation that are pure gold. Königsberg-based Sunset Wings are a prime example of a nascent star rising in the neofolk firmament that appears to be blazing its own trail across the heavens with an exquisite blend of traditional folk music steeped in romanticism, poetry and beauty and that has a wonderful, melancholic and tranquil feel about it and more than a touch of the mediaeval.
Sunset Wings dedicate ‘Covering For Solace’ to ‘all the people who serve the beauty of music and poetry, serve Euterpe…’. The homage to Euterpe is a deft touch that sets the scene perfectly for the 14 tracks that follow as in Greek mythology she was one of the Muses and prime goddesses, or spirits, who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. Euterpe was obviously smiling down benevolently on Sunset Wings throughout the creation of ‘Covering for Solace’ and blessed them with her divine grace and favour.
Released on the Polish Wrotycz Records imprint the disc is presented as a Digipack with stunningly evocative artwork by Natalia Krutcina that compliments the music beautifully. The disc is accompanied by a 12 page colour booklet with the lyrics to the various tracks and more examples of Natalias watercolour artwork.
With exemplary craftsmanship Sunset Wings lovingly sets the words of such long gone literary luminaries as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling and William Blake against a flowing backdrop of harmonious vocals, sublime acoustic guitars, soaring violin and cello, understated percussion and pastoral flute that play out traditional folk tunes as well as homespun compositions. At just shy of 60 minutes, the music presented here is faultlessly delivered and the composition perfectly balanced so that all the elements combine to form a whole greater than the sum of the individual parts. Sunset Wings sit comfortably next to notable scene acts such as The Moon and the Nightspirit, Werkraum, The Joy of Nature and Forseti and more than hold their own, admirably.
The opening track, ‘Covering For Solace’, is a short interlude of pastoral acoustic guitar, folk-ish flute and piano that offers a perfect glimpse of what can be expected from the following 13 tracks, a selection of which are reviewed, below.
‘Dirge’ is anything but! A wonderful twilight tinged coalescence of strummed acoustic guitar, tinkling piano and dolorous melodic strings crowned by a wonderfully ethereal vocal that suits the sorrowful air to perfection. ‘The White Seal Lullaby’, with its shimmering music-box intro and closing is a heady and fragrant mix of strummed guitars and languorous violins that ebb and flow on a rose tinted tide of melancholia complimented by the watery twinkle of a bell tree.
With Tatiana and Alexey’s vocal interplay weaving a melancholic tapestry of light and dark shades draped seductively over tender and emotive strings and a gently despairing piano refrain ‘Proserpine’ is without doubt one of the highlights of ‘Covering For Solace’ and a perfect setting to frame Rossetti’s classic ode. ‘Riddles Widely Expounded’ and ‘Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ are two equally strong tracks that stand proud and true. The former takes a traditional melody and folk story and gives it a contemporary twist in the telling of a fair maidens requited love for a valiant Knight. The latter, setting the words of Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ to music has echoes reminiscent of the Joy of Nature such is the pastoral, woodland feel that is evoked. You can almost feel the crisp, cold air gnawing at your flesh and hear the crunch of footsteps in the snow.
Given that the instrumentation employed remains largely similar on all tracks it would have been all too easy in lesser talented hands to fall into bland repetition and, given the subject matter, even pure whimsy. The fact that Sunset Wings avoid this potential trap and deliver a breathtaking debut album in what can sometimes be a difficult genre is testament to the ability and craftsmanship of the players involved. This is an album of complex arrangements, beautiful music and subtle nuances that make this an outstanding neofolk release that doesn’t weary the listener after repeated listens.
For a relatively young label Wrotycz have put out some excellent releases that include Coph Nia, Necrophorous and Bocksholm, however, the Sunset Wings release could quite easily be the jewel in their crown. If you have a predilection for intelligent and wonderfully arranged contemporary folk music with an almost mediaeval, woodland feel, played to perfection and that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve then Sunset Wings have delivered you a not-to-be missed release.
Sunset Wings are a Kaliningrad based contemporary folk band. On this their debut album they use the words of famous English romantic poets including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Frost and Rudyard Kipling amongst others. Some of the musical arrangements are either traditional compositions or their own. There is an excellent version of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ‘Proserpine’ as well as a stunning ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost amongst a strong set of songs.
It would be interesting to hear how well Sunset Wings fare on an album of their own songs. That aside, this is an album of good compositions. Vocal arrangements of the poems sound beautiful with the singers working together effortlessly backed by acoustic guitars, violin, cello, percussion and flute.
The CD dig pack and booklet are adorned with beautiful watercolor paintings by Natalia Krutcina. Her work compliments the album very well. This has a rare novelty of being an album that you play all of the way through, a modern gem. That added to the fact that funds go towards their struggling Brudenia record label, makes this CD an attractive buy. (Zenon Gratkowski)
Side-Line Music Magazine
Sunset Wings is a Russian band releasing their official debut-cd on the Polish Wrotycz Records. This band will definitely appeal for the lovers of the Prikosnovénie label. Several influences like neo-classical, folk and ethereal are running through their compositions. The songs were composed mainly by acoustic instruments like guitar, violin, cello, flute, mouth organ and a few other instruments for the rise. The songs are like little ballads bringing the listener into a dreamy universe. Several feelings and emotions emerge from the songs, which are accentuated by some of the instruments. The violin and cello definitely have an important input here. The song “Flowers” brings some melancholy while another piece like the title-song “Covering For Solace” sounds more into pure reverie. All over the entire album Sunset Wings brings us more into a state of reverie while bringing a kind of ode to nature. Sunset Wings is definitely inspired by the force and beauty of nature and there’s probably nothing more emotional than this theme. Their music sounds like a lengthening of this nature bringing the listener into a good spirit. The lyrics are quite conceptual and mainly extract from literature and poetry. We get some words from very famous writers like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling or yet William Blake. The pre-raphaelite Rossetti is definitely their main source of inspiration. It’s an artistic period I really love and which has been remarkably reflected into the music of Sunset Wings. This debut-album is graceful while the artwork totally reflects the splendor of their creation! (ED:7/8)ED.
The Shadow Commence
Fans of romantic neofolk, take heed; the SUNSET WINGS has finally spread upon us!
I was expecting this album to come from the German label Eis & Licht but due to certain circumstances we’re now introduced to this newcomers in the Russian neofolk scene by our friends over at Wrotycz Records instead. Which is just as good. The label has previously given us mainly dark ambient / industrial gifts, but some folkier stuff as well, and I’m thinking of KRATONG, a project closely linked to ROMOWE RIKOITO. And while speaking of ROMOWE RIKOITO, I must take the given opportunity and say that their listeners should throw an ear at SUNSET WINGS, because the similarities are striking, and their sound comes without any real surprises. We’re used to this kind of slow, melancholic and beautiful guitar playing after listening to other Russian bands like NEUTRAL and BLOOD & SAND. Newcomers can think CURRENT 93, 1990-something era.
”Covering for Solace” also contains moments of surprisingly well performed flute and several other acoustic instruments. And vocals of course. In English with an extreme Russian accent. Personally, I think it sounds charming but I know some people might have problems with that. Furthermore, the vocals are pretty varied, giving us both male and female, sung and spoken.
The lyrics are adapted poems from great writers such as Rossetti and Kipling, and I must say that their poems are quite fitting for this kind of music. It works really well in some of the standout tracks; ”Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, ”Flowers” and ”Adieu”. Here, we get nice, original melodies and a perfect balance between music and lyrics. However, an equal amount of tracks are pretty pale and lacks some real identity, but SUNSET WINGS are for sure skillful musicians and I’m sure the future will bring us much joy and love from Kaliningrad!
A quick resume if you don’t have time to read the full review;
SUNSET WINGS is a debuting, promising neofolk act from Russia. ”Covering for Solace” is an album filled with slow and very nice guitar driven neofolk in the vein of ROMOWE RIKOITO and CURRENT 93. There are for sure things to work on, but overall, I’m pleased with the result.