Album review: FAVNI – Windswept

FAVNI - Windswept

[Release date 20.05.16]

With a name change from Fauns (primarily because of the clash with the British band The Fauns) marking the introduction of new electric guitarist Thomas Glase and vocalist, flautist and fiddler Kirsten Middeke, this five-piece from Berlin have produced a rather captivating brand of ‘folk-prog’ on their ‘debut’ under the name Favni.  As Fauns they released two previous albums – LeafFall (2007) and Awaiting The Sun (2011).

While Windswept has obligatory explosive proggy time changes etc, it’s the more pastoral elements – Jan-Peer Hartmann’s 12 string guitar work, the swelling keyboards of guest (former Fauns member) Jan Hecker-Stampehl, and Middeke’s flute and viola playing – reminiscent of Trespass era Genesis – that add an authentic early 1970s aspect to the set.

That’s supplemented by some fine electric guitar work and a wonderfully tight rhythm section of Falk Hartmann (4 string and 6-string fretless basses) and Nils Hartmann (drums) who are particularly impressive on the atmospherically percussive opener ‘Yearning For You’.

There’s similarly distinct echoes of the late sixties era King Crimson – Middeke’s sublime flute providing the key linkage.  There is a weakness though, and it’s in the vocal department.  Despite lead vocals being spread around the band, none totally convince.  There’s also an absence of any ‘killer’ material.

But there is some unquestionably fine musicianship on display and, combined with some very listenable material, Windswept is well worth exploring for those with a love of the genre.   You can stream, download or purchase the CD (nicely packaged in a gatefold sleeve, with the second CD including two studio and three 2011 live tracks) at  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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