Musk Ox
Inheritance


4.7
superb

Review

by Atari STAFF
July 13th, 2021 | 80 replies


Release Date: 07/09/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A breathtaking return from Canada's finest dark folk act that makes one thing especially clear: Woodfall was no fluke. Musk Ox are masters of the craft.

It’s impossible to write about Inheritance without touching on the influence its creators have had on me. Around seven years ago, I discovered what felt like a different musical plane through the sweeping, instrumental arrangements of Musk Ox’s Woodfall. I was hooked - completely captivated in every sense. This led me down a path of obsession in which I spent about six months completely unaffected by music with words. If it wasn’t dark folk or classical, it would have to wait. The stunning level of detail in these instrumental worlds had a depth to them you just couldn’t find in other music. I inadvertently stumbled across neofolk giants like Tenhi and Vali. Suddenly my record collection was filled with the likes of Schubert, Sibelius, and Mendelssohn. I still look back at this time as a vital turning point that forever shaped my taste in music, and I owe it all to Musk Ox.

After a long absence, the emotive Inheritance reignites this passion with the hypnotizing effect of a burning ember. The inevitable speculation as to whether the Canadian trio’s return would be as epic as promised is knocked flat by a towering two-part title track. At a combined 22 minutes, the sometimes gorgeous, often intimidating stretch feels like a satisfying journey all in its own. Ominous and in constant motion, it takes a patient ear to catch all the details as a single guitar, cello and violin clash together as one potent heartbeat. Unlike its predecessor though, some of the most jaw-dropping moments of Inheritance happen in more isolated spaces. Despite being shorter than any tracks on Woodfall, the reflective and minimalistic “Memoriam” still manages to feel completely massive. This is due to a crawling build of simultaneously haunting and warmly resonating string melodies – perhaps the strongest of their career.

If Woodfall was a cinematic portrait of nature’s complete beauty – sprawling horizons and colorful trees hanging over rivers - then Inheritance is its darker descendent laid bare. The branches here are hollow shells of what they were, a few remaining leaves barely holding on. An incredibly melancholic mood invokes a longing for what remains of our broken connection to nature. This vivid imagery is elevated by a level of passion you can just feel escape from every note. There’s the airy, peaceful vibe of “Weightless.” And of course, there’s the urgent and playful skipping of strings on “Ritual” that recall a ceremonious and bizarre campfire dance. Clearly, recapturing your inheritance isn’t a half-assed process. It’s a trek through the most desolate, untraversed woodlands; a stripping of your clothing, dirt-covered hands stretched towards the sky. In the hands of the rustic Musk Ox, it’s certainly a spiritual experience.

When I get lost in a Musk Ox record, everything else seems so inconsequential; time around me just sort of pauses. Inheritance maintains its mesmerizing grasp by painting its atmosphere with slower, but arguably more powerful strokes than its predecessor. It has some of the most restrained and somber moments from the act yet, but also some of the most brooding, even threatening sections. Founding member, Nathanael Larochette has never sounded better, his intricate way with the guitar adding a special quality throughout the album. Cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and violinist Evan Runge also make stunning contributions; Musk Ox wouldn’t be the same without their enthusiastic guiding hands. The instrumentation these three musicians conjure up is indescribably beautiful. Something about the precise guitar plucking and weeping strings seem to carry an echo here: a powerful, unmistakable aura. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it’s one of the best sounding dark folk albums I’ve ever heard. Musk Ox have proven yet again to be masters of lush, cinematic storytelling through their music. Similar arrangements have graced my ears, but never with the skeletal yet powerful weight of Inheritance.



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user ratings (96)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2021


26877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

can only hope I did this immense album even a sliver of justice.. cheers to Nathanael for reaching out about the review. Woodfall was an important album to me and I could see myself liking this one even more (just keeps getting better the last few days).



https://muskoxofficial.bandcamp.com/album/inheritance

Digging: Maxo Kream - Weight Of The World

Project
July 13th 2021


5203 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lovely writeup Atari, I might have to give this a spin to see if any album can break the spell my current dig has me under. I recognized the cellist's name from The Visit, a band I remember liking a few songs of but mostly getting a lot of bandcamp spam about



should I start here or with Woodfall?

Digging: The World Is a Beautiful Place... - Illusory Walls

DungeonBoy
July 13th 2021


8460 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review Atari! The talent of these guys is unparalleled, and I think this album is even better than Woodfall, which set the bar really high for them. The production on this is so massive and perfect, it's one of the best sounding albums I've heard in a while. This will be in my rotation for quite some time

Ebola
July 13th 2021


4163 Comments


great review, gotta check

Rowhaus
July 13th 2021


4341 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was pretty awesome

ChoccyPhilly
July 13th 2021


13399 Comments


Siiiiick. Just waiting for sunset before this gets a spin

Digging: James Blake - Friends That Break Your Heart

Rowhaus
July 13th 2021


4341 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is some seriously grim stuff. Kinda surprised they didn't wait until winter to drop this.

Funeralopolis
July 13th 2021


14570 Comments


So cool to see this band on here! This band went to my school and I have seen them play at a local pub, beautiful stuff.

Pikazilla
July 13th 2021


19218 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

indie folk plebs gonna hate this

NOTINTHEFACE
July 13th 2021


2069 Comments


Hyyyyyype!

"If Woodfall was a cinematic portrait of nature’s complete beauty – sprawling horizons and colorful trees hanging over rivers - then Inheritance is its darker descendent laid bare."

I am an absolute simp for this sort of thing. Can't wait to give it a listen.

Elynna
July 13th 2021


1019 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There it is! We share some similar thoughts on the album and I think you did it justice in your writeup. I might end up liking this more than Woodfall, but it's too early to tell.

Digging: The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus - The Gift of Tears

Elynna
July 13th 2021


1019 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dark folk is taking over the front page! Oh boi

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2021


26877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

cheers everyone! love seeing people already getting enthusiastic about this album



and yeah, it's not every day you see two dark folk albums sharing space on the front page on Sput. impeccable timing! that Rota Fortunae is 100% worth the time as well

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2021


2944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Monster review Atari, super excited to check this...



Perhaps the first time in the history of Sputnik when two dark folk reviews have been featured at once, haha

bigguytoo9
July 14th 2021


1149 Comments


I am Canadian and didnt know these guys were from Canada. Never really checked them out but heard the name multiple times. Must peep this now.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


15260 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

The artwork here is a bit of a step down, fortunately the music is not.

MuskOx
July 14th 2021


19 Comments


Wow, thank you for the beautiful words Atari! A great review is able to offer illuminating insights that help creators see their art in new a light and your review absolutely achieved this. I also greatly appreciate all of the feedback. We worked very hard on this album well aware of Woodfall's reputation among fans. I also appreciate the comments on the production. Due to the pandemic, we actually mixed the entire album online and since myself and Raph didn't have anything else going on we worked on the mix much longer than we would have otherwise.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


15260 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Atari is top tier agreed.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


26877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

@Nathanael, it was my pleasure to write about this album.. quite honestly honored to do it! all your dedication and meticulous attention to detail definitely paid off. you guys now have two masterpieces under your belt! it's impressive you were able to match (and arguably surpass) the quality of Woodfall which is an album so many people were clearly passionate about including myself. I have little doubts the longtime fans are going to really appreciate this but hope some new listeners are moved as well



Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2021


26877 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

Also cheers Nocte.. always flattering me haha ;) I’m just glad to still be around



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