Falgar - Viento y fango - (3/10)
Published on February 24, 2016
Puerto Rican black metal turned neofolk band Falgar was formed by Etienne Goldberg Santini in 2007, who has since moved the project to Vermont. While the majority of Falgar’s music has been rooted in atmospheric black metal, the project shifted into neofolk with 2014’s Lejanía, as Santini claims he was guided by his spirit to distance himself from the filth and spiritual emptiness of everyday modern life. This path was continued on his 2015 album, Viento y fango, which is comprised of ten tracks of ethereal passages covering nearly forty-five minutes.
Santini claims that this album is an attempt to harness images from his youth; things that give his spirit hope when all else has failed. It is also said to follow the journey of the seasons, attempting to mirror the birth, death and eventual rebirth of nature. It’s a rather bold statement for a neofolk band to attempt to conjure the grandeur of nature in a single setting. Most bands will attempt to harness a single season, a solstice, a location; but to attempt the entire life cycle of nature seems foolhardy. Regardless of what his inspirations were, Viento y fango is somber and haunting, but it leaves a sour taste and has more than its share of missteps.
Focusing mostly on slow moving acoustic guitar picking and Santini’s brooding “vocals”, the album seems to take twice as long to play through as the slated forty-five minutes. This is mostly because of repetitive and quite uncreative guitar passages. Honestly a majority of the passages would make playing anything “My First Big Book of Guitar Tabs” seem like a Herculean task. It’s not just that the passages are simplistic, because some of my favorite neofolk albums are rooted in simplistic beauty, but Falgar’s passages are simple and downright boring. A few samples of blowing wind and the sporadic helping of a second guitar do little-to-nothing to mask the fact that nothing really happens here.
Before we completely dismiss Viento y fango as overly simplistic drivel that may appeal to some fans of the genre, special attention needs brought to Santini’s vocals. Brooding, breathy, mystical; I’m sure Santini hears these passages as melodic odes to the grandeur of nature, but they are close to laughable. It reminds me of Sandy the Starfish from Jake and the Neverland Pirates (seriously, look it up for a pretty damn good impression of these vocals). It reminds me of what Elvis would sound like while attempting to sing “Blue Christmas” with a mouth full of pills while trying to eat a turkey leg. It takes any attempt at sounding serene and flushes it down the toilet.
Falgar’s intentions are good and he provides a wonderful concept to attempt his atavistic, nature loving tracks, but the execution is beyond weak. Perhaps if he wandered past beginner acoustic guitar passages or maybe just spiced things up a bit instead of the three notes per track things would not drag on so dreadfully. I would also suggest that Santini focus on instrumental tracks or even bring on another singer, because as soon as his voice hits my skin crawls and I instantly feel embarrassed for him. I guess this isn’t the worst thing ever recorded, but it’s probably the worst neofolk I’ve ever listened to.