The new four-track EP by Urze de Lume ‘Vozes na Neblina (Voices in the Haze)’ – rekindles the ancestral fire and connects us to our ancient European kindred – the Lusitani – whose proud tribal race dwelt in what is now northwest Portugal. This is dark neofolk and traditional spiritual folk at its best.
The EP begins with ‘Vozes na Neblina’ the sound of the crackling fire and the voice of a world-weary narrator (from Urze de Lume’s friends and brothers-in-arms Àrnica). It sets the Autumnal scene of the natural Lustanian landscape with the forces of winter approaching to dominate. Here is a rough translation from the Portuguese original:
It runs in the distance the stream shaped by the penetrating stone lightness. Sustained by natural substrate, they walk together. Slightly, hangs the Autumnal robe. The silent cold is like a Wolf in the woods. Quiet and attentive, unobtainable and indomitable.
The sounds come from the pores of the earth. Wet and fertile, even in times of fallow. Embracing in his chest the pure life of the rigour that is approaching.
In the distance, staring at the mounds of fire, he lurks in the winter, marching steadily and imposing a rhythm of silencing ice.
We live times of recollection, of purity and calm.
The sense of purity and calm is overwhelming. The sense of the loss of summer and the oncoming forces of a crueller winter could easily be identified as a traditionalist metaphor for the fall of the sacred tribal culture and heritage with the brutal advancement of Roman imperialism, Christianity and modernity in general consigned the worship of the old gods and nature to a history long-forgotten by most – not by all. It is an ancestral calling for the band to return to the old ways and invoking the spirits their once-proud ancestors through music.
Urze de Lume resurrect the genetic memory with their beautifully melancholic recreation of Lusitanian traditional folk music (which has elements firmly rooted in Celtic tradition) using natural percussive instruments of carved wood and ornate goat-horns with acoustic strings.
The second track ‘Quando as Nuvens Escurecem (When the Clouds Darken)’ is an acoustic string-led instrumental which is reminiscent of Nebelung or Sangre De Muerdago with its linear build-ups and simple melodies. It weaves a spell and slowly intoxicates you with its rhythmic tribalistic beats and enchanting guitar melodies.
The third track is another vocal poetic ‘prelude’ which is a narrated in an almost mournful elegiac tone yet age-weary and wise. Its content is of the same Ubi Sunt theme as that of the Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer. The predominant sense of ‘where are they now?’ in memoriam to the golden age of harmonious tribal community living.
Gone are the fires and the threshing floors, Dry the brooks that bring life To the harsh horizons of memory, On evenings when the night does not end. No longer do we hear songs in the wind, No longer do they play on the mountain, In this eternal autumn of forgetfulness, Of forgotten stories that there is no one to tell. That’s why I say and I repeat! Revolting the earth that runs in my veins! Gone are the bonfires and the eiras. Flaming their roots with them. On fire … the soul of a people. In the fire, it’s because of you that I burn. On the fire, it’s you I die for.
The ancestral flames burn most brightly and are inflamed with passion as we are led to the final track ‘Outono Eterno (Eternal Autumn)’ which is a brooding and twilight-infused call-to-arms for the warrior within. The horn blows long as the mournful fiddle cries out its rustic melody of yore against a backdrop of percussive shells and shakers moving at an andante pace with the hand-drum pounding with a tribal and militarian purpose.
Overall, there is a sense of resignation that the door of the past is locked; that we cannot chase the ghosts of yesterday and relive those times. The state of limbo between the summer and winter is permanent. Only through music can we connect to our ancestors with the hope that one day we can relive the lives that they did and turn our backs on the miseries of material existence in the modern world and stay true to our roots in proud celebration of whom we are and who we once were.