Murmur Mori from northern Italy have created a wonderful collection of neofolk and spiritual pieces in their debut ‘O’ album. They adhere closely to the worship of nature following the old ways in a heathen manner along a more Celtic path. Their music is saturated with naturalistic samples, water running, leaves, tree bark acoustics and anything they have taken from the sacred sites and groves of Lombardy, Piemonte and the Valle D’Aosta. In a Celtic sense, their music lies somewhere in between Medhelan and nemeton – the earthly paradise with meditative drones and ethereal chanting using organic instruments and percussive objects taken from the groves in order to channel the energy or that very spiritual essence into their music with the objective of transporting you to these places via their primitive sounds.
It begins with ‘Atto’ (The Act) – is a beautiful yet melancholic elegy for the yearning of the old ways – when the stones and forests were sacred – it re-enacts the ceremonious rituals of the hunters run freely in the woods and are very much a part of the forest or woodlands itself in harmonious alignment with the earth. The music itself is a woven melodious spell beginning with a leading introduction of accordion with a medieval-like melody before proceeding the act into acoustic guitar and soft female chanting which is reminiscent of early Dead Can Dance and the neofolk acoustics of Nebelung or Forseti.
‘Nemeton’ the second track is an instrumental darker drone to encourage the trancelike state. Heavily reverbed tin whistle against a primal drum and deep drone echo curving time back to prehistoric era where we dwelt in the earthly paradise or untouched orchard. This could easily belong on a Paleowolf or Pragnavit album; its primal sense of magic is evoked and brought to the surface in a psychedelic state. It broods within and elevates you to a higher state of being through repetitive drumming and a connective, spiritual drone to entrance you into a dimension either of a blissful state or to give you a taster of the Otherworld.
The third track ‘Il Dono dell’Albero (The Gift of the Tree)’ is similar to the opening track Atti, almost like an extension of the melody or continuation with its acoustically strummed guitar and Lisa Gerrard-like vocals particularly from Dead Can Dance’s “Within The Realm of the Dying Sun” or “Serpent’s Egg” era. With a backdrop of running water – the evocative sense of being close to nature is immense.
The next track ‘Il Legno, il Sasso e la Volpe al Fiume’ (which in translation is something like “the woods, the stones and the river fox” is an instrumental and takes a different direction with a mysterious drone from an archaic stringed instrument sounding almost oriental or Mongolian with chimes and bark wood taken from these natural sites and replayed. There are field recordings of crows, water and wind chimes against a bass drone of the accordion or some other form of wind instrument like bagpipes. It builds up in layers and progresses to a marching beat in a tribalistic sense in a Wardruna-like fashion. It’s so subtle yet very powerful.
‘Aquile’ (Eagle) follows descending from the mountains down to the woodlands below in a mournful and brooding, almost gothic and pagan sense of foreboding. It is the most eerie of all the tracks and deeply psychedelic in touch with the spirits not only of the natural world itself but those of the dead. It is like time is cyclical and all contained in the present. The track starts with electro/radio crackling or vinyl static and drone-like lyrical chanting about the eagle soaring itself from the great mountainous heights and down to magical waters in a beautifully poetic form as we transcend the mortal world in glory and rise above the mundane. There is this harmonious ringing throughout like that of a Tibetan bowl and high plucked strings from the ukelele.
The final track ‘La Caverna’ closes the cycle with a slow and mournful folk ballad almost like Mazzy Star with its psychedelic, dreamlike qualities. The track changes tempo about halfway through to a wild set of strumming riffs as if we’ve entered the cavern/cave and found the beast within or the beast within ourselves after introspection and meditation.
‘O’ can be interpreted as the unbroken circle, or the repetitive symbol of life and death or even the infinity of time in a loop where the past is brought to the present through their spellbinding music woven with magic. The best way to describe Murmur Mori’s ‘O’ is to visualise it simply as a portal through which we enter into the Otherworld where we transcend time and space and overcome the miseries of material existence through their shamanic ritual folk to a state of bliss.