Musk Ox
Woodfall


4.5
superb

Review

by Nash J. CONTRIBUTOR (35 Reviews)
July 5th, 2014 | 307 replies | 18,163 views


Release Date: 06/17/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A captivating, emotional, and masterfully-crafted achievement of not only neofolk music, but of music in general.

Never in recent memory has instrumental folk music seemed more epic and grand-scale than on Musk Ox’s Woodfall. Due to the genre’s tendency to be relatively relaxing and atmospheric, I often find myself being drawn to instrumental folk in times of stress or when I simply need to calm down after a long day’s proceedings. Vali’s Skogslandskap, for instance, encapsulates my favorite elements of the neofolk genre; boasting serene arrangements that focus on the subtle elegance of nature. Woodfall, however, is an entirely different venture from most well-known neofolk; so much so that it defies any sort of genre-labeling. A mere two albums into their career, and Musk Ox have already perfected their sound and released one of the most extraordinarily emotional albums of the past few years.

There was no surprise upon learning that Woodfall was six years in the making. With five tracks spanning an hour in length all together, the album is massive both in size and scope. Woodfall is ambitious from start to finish, with each expansive track covering a slew of different emotions while never succumbing to stagnancy. The album’s tone changes frequently, but never feels forced or disjointed, continually serving to entice the listener with each passing second. Although no song remains the same throughout, each track has an entirely different focus and conveys its own unique imagery. Beginning with the soft, ambient sounds of nature, opening track “Part 1 - Earthrise” has an extremely lighthearted feeling to it, with the violin painting a gorgeous picture of a colorful garden alive with all sorts of life. Yet, as the song progresses and the instruments begin to crescendo, an oncoming sense of fear becomes all the more present. “Part 4 - Above the Clouds” on the other hand, despite remaining true to the album’s overall sound, has an entirely different agenda. The harmonies between the violins and cello creates a wonderful dichotomy that seems to tell the epic tale of an adventure that pits forces of good against evil. Perhaps most notable of all is “Part 5 - Serenade the Constellations.” Opening with ethereal guitar picking played over an ambient-like backdrop, the song wraps up Woodfall perfectly by encompassing each of the album’s different emotional themes. In fact, throughout its seventeen-minutes, “Part 5 - Serenade the Constellations” creates an atmosphere so mournful and contemplative that it is difficult not to be brought to tears as the song, and album likewise, decrescendos to its end with the same ambience in which the album began.

The ingenious way in which Woodfall is crafted sets it apart from other contemporary neofolk releases more than anything else. By incorporating elements of classical music, post-rock, and even metal into their sound to convey an entire assortment of emotions, Musk Ox’s sound is one that is both unique and intriguing. Every song is built by layers of harmonious melodies that range from calm and ambient to jaw-droppingly intense. There are so many intricacies to each layer of Musk Ox’s music that the listener is always kept completely immersed. Although the album’s ambition is overreaching at times, dragging slightly during “Part 3 - Arcanum,” there is no moment in which Woodfall becomes repetitive; a remarkable feat for an hour-long instrumental release that relies heavily on atmosphere. Another element of the album that is bound to further the keep the listener engaged is Musk Ox’s absolutely top-notch instrumentation. Band members Nathanael Larochette, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, and Evan Runge are masterful musicians, each one displaying his individual skill on certain parts of every song. Powerful, soaring melodies by the violin, incredibly passionate classical guitar and dark, often heavy cello playing create a sound so grandiose that it is easily comparable to a full orchestra.

Woodfall is a step beyond what one would mostly identify as excellent instrumental folk music. Sure, the album is full of beauty and serenity, but to call it merely a “beautiful” or “serene” album does Musk Ox a great disservice. Woodfall is a captivating experience; one that encompasses a large variety of emotions from sadness, to jubilly, to fear, while never losing its focus. Like most neofolk, this album is easy to get lost in, but at the same time challenges the listener to explore the depths of their subconscious with extravagant arrangements that tell fascinating stories. If anything, Woodfall is an indication that, despite them being around for ten years now, the story of Musk Ox has just begun.



Recent reviews by this author
The Phantom Band Strange FriendThe Night Watch The Night Watch
Mr. Bungle CaliforniaDeath Has No Dominion Death Has No Dominion
Stagnant Pools GeistBurzum The Ways of Yore
user ratings (94)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



4807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The quality of this album seriously took me by surprise. If it wasn't for the new Trophy Scars record,
this would be my AOTY thus far. Fans of the genre or not, be sure to give this a listen! Shout-out to
CaptainDooRight for bringing this to my attention and to Atari for really getting me interested in
this.

Woodfall is streaming here:
http://muskoxofficial.bandcamp.com/album/woodfall

Digging: Integrity - Those Who Fear Tomorrow

avonbarksdale221
July 5th 2014



8071 Comments


Nice review here buddy this sounds very interesting indeed

CaptainDooRight
July 5th 2014



28335 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

sweet ass review! This is my aoty doesn't get better than this.

LIKE THE SHEER EMOTION

Digging: IQ - The Road of Bones

CaptainDooRight
July 5th 2014



28335 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the story of Musk Ox has just begun

HARD

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



19993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will check soon. I dig the artwork.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



4807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys. Agreed Cap, the emotions are outstanding. And you should definitely check this JT, I think you would dig.

manosg
July 5th 2014



5720 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album and the artwork are both incredible. Nice find guys!

Great work as usual Judio. You've missed a couple of things such as "I often find myself being drawn to instrumental folk in times of stress when or when I simply" but solid work.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



19993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review btw.

One small thing I noticed:

the album is massive in both in size and scope.


Remove one of the in's.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



4807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for pointing those out Manosg and JT! It's pretty late at night and I'm getting tired so I had a bad feeling I missed a
couple typos.

Calc
July 5th 2014



12004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

everaia (or whatever) is the true start of this hype train yall should thank him

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

laughingman22
July 5th 2014



1357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cool review

try not to use the phrase "Never in recent memory has *insert genre* seemed..." so much, I feel it appears in your reviews a lot.

Digging: Funkadelic - One Nation Under a Groove

Mad.
July 5th 2014



3587 Comments


Awesome review, sums up the album really well. Wonderful stuff

Digging: Dwellers - Pagan Fruit

Totengott
July 5th 2014



404 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Excellent review.

The album is a masterpiece.

Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

Artuma
July 5th 2014



10654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

agreed

Digging: 68 - In Humor and Sadness

ExplosiveOranges
July 5th 2014



1420 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've heard many good things about this album. Great review, Judio. I'll check this out ASAP.

Digging: Seven Lions - Worlds Apart

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2014



15332 Comments


I...will...hear this. If it's the last thing I do!

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



9112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sweet I'm gonna read this in a bit

CaptainDooRight
July 5th 2014



28335 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Sowing, you rule!

Calc
July 5th 2014



12004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

feels like you rushed this review to me. I dunno I never read your other stuff but you say pretty much the same things for two long paragraphs and there's these:

"None of the band members ever let up or refrain showing off their skill"

kind of doesn't need to be said no?


"one that encompasses the entire emotional spectrum while never losing its focus."


there's a lot of these fluffy buzz-cliches that make the review feel kind of hollow, like you didn't know what to say about it and you threw these in. Lastly:


"Part 4 - Earthwise"

Part 4 is called "Above the Clouds"



Just what one reader has noticed. That last sentence is particularly good though.



Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 5th 2014



4807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you everyone for the compliments!

Calc, I really appreciate your feedback. I did put a lot of work into this review but for some reason
(probably due to my exhaustion and bad mood) I did a really awful job of proofreading, and I apologize
for that. I should probably reword the "None of the band members" part, I meant to point out how
talented they are but I could he worded it better. I didn't notice anything wrong with the "one that
encompasses" part when I wrote it but if you think it sounds hollow I can change it. I meant to say
that nearly emotion I could think of that would be associated with music of this type is encompassed
on this alum but that does sound pretty lame. And I can't believe I made that mistake on "Part 4" and
didn't notice it, that's my favorite song on the album in fact so I feel really stupid. As a whole I'm
sorry you didn't like my review, I tried to separate my second and third paragraph by having one talk
about the songs specifically and the other discuss the musicianship and how the music is built,sorry
if it didn't come across. In any event thank you for reading, I'm honestly embarrassed at how many
times I screwed up here.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy