Review Summary: A concise, poignant respite
Time and again artists within the neofolk genre have harnessed the extended play format to stunning effect. The abbreviated presentation seems to only sharpen the impact of this particular brand of acoustic music. Had they been drawn out to a full-length’s runtime, Sonne Hagal’s Nidar
or Agalloch’s The White EP
simply may not have made the same emotional impression.
Sputnikmusic user DungeonBoy has taken history to heart and managed to accomplish a similar feat with his 2016 debut Vespers
. Under the pseudonym Rota Fortunae, he has shared a sextet of stirring folk songs powered by arpeggiated acoustic guitar, pensive piano and winding strings, and replete with melodies that recall the masterworks of neofolk greats such as Nebelung and Musk Ox.
It’s been a long time coming, with some compositions waiting in the wings for 8 years. However, the lengthy gestation has proven healthy as every note feels carefully considered and purposefully placed. The music rarely overstays its welcome or withdraws too soon.
Thematic continuity is indeed the crowning attribute here. For nearly 20 minutes, a cedar-encircled ambiance lingers uninhibited. The trance never breaks. This trait may be best evidenced by the swelling segue of opener “Rebirth” into the descending melodies, nylon-stringed harmonics, and lowing cello of “Autumn’s Hymn”, but the transitions occurring within the songs also pay testament to the overall cohesiveness of this work.
While best experienced as a whole, the highest emotional peaks arise around the record’s midpoint, with the nostalgic refrain of “Dissolving Light” and the resonant nocturnal air of “Sanctum”. The closing minutes of the piano-driven finale “Repose” are also worth noting.
With this EP, DungeonBoy has offered an enthralling experience. Vespers
establishes a world all its own and guides visitors through its inviting terrain along brambly paths illuminated by a steadily setting sun. Like a sojourn in the woods, this is a concise, poignant respite from the clamor of civilization that warrants many return visits.