Il Est Ne
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Audio CD, June 17, 2008
This is a collection of some very old and even older Christmas carols presented in the style of a a semi live Renaissance Faire performance comprised of open mic performance recordings, which has been multi-tracked, but not digitally embellished, enhanced, or significantly changed from the original acoustics.
Fugli's Medieval musical styling includes intentional drones, chanting, ancient tonal harmonies, and the occasional lapse into multiple languages, often played with venerable instruments. Some of the more familiar French Carol melodies are offered without words, while some of the less familiar are offered with vocal accompaniment.
Every year, as Christmas approaches, we hear music written for the season, both old and new. In this age of ever growing popularity of secular carols, Fugli has compiled this brief collection of some older and more reverent - one might even consider them more relevant - songs commemorating the promise, the prophecy, and the birth of the Christ child.
May this collection remind everyone that there once was a time when even secular music acknowledged the presence of God.
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The instruments are frequently out of tune, and not just a little bit. I have friends who have been entirely deaf since birth who would have heard how far off this is. The thought of having other people listen to something so poorly done would make most people cringe, but not the Fugli boys. The man singing harmony is so far off key almost every time he opens his mouth, that if given the choice between listening to him continue to sing or stabbing myself in the eye with a rusty nail and then stirring it around, I'd have to think long and hard about which is the lesser of two evils. It's a close call.
Now, I know medieval music sounds less polished than what we typically listen to today. Let's face it, it's a different sound. But I've been to my share of renaissance faires and I have a huge musical collection with thousands of titles from various historical periods. I can honestly say I have never, ever, heard anything as agonizing to listen to as this CD. The most amazing thing about it was the fact that two guys recorded themselves and then looked at each other until one of them said, "Hey, buddy, this is so great, we should MARKET it! Everyone's gonna want to listen to this baby!"
I put this CD on for the first (and last!) time without showing it to my wife or telling her anything about it. After listening for only a few moments, she accused me of playing the CD as a joke. She thought it was a couple of guys who got drunk and recorded themselves and I was playing the alcohol-addled result. She refused to believe this was someone's idea of a serious attempt at music. I had to show her the CD jewel case before she would believe it was not all just a joke.
So, guys, I'll give you props for having the brass to try this, but do yourselves a favor; don't quit your day jobs.
The album isn't just a collection of commonly recycled Christmas favorites, but instead has some delightful, yet underplayed traditional songs. "Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella" has long been a favorite of mine and, while I prefer it a bit up-tempo, simply hearing it was a delight.
A track that truly stands out from the rest though is "Good King Wenceslas". Although the track is entirely instrumental, one is hard pressed to miss the lyrics. The song is simply so pure that it seems there should be no other way to listen to this song.
The only problem that this album has is one common to most Christmas album, most Christmas Carols are fairly short. One can easily find oneself wishing for a song to go on a bit longer, an extra refrain, a coda...anything.
Still, albums of this style and caliber are difficult to find. These days there is a shrinking number of renfolk who would consider releasing an album of Christian related music. The album is delightful and refreshing and is certainly will make a great stocking stuffer.
"Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" done as a quiet delightful meditative piece
"Angels We Have Heard on High,"
"The First Noel"
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
"Angels from the Realms of Glory" that has a background trac that slowly evolves as if bells are ringing
"Good King Wenceslas"
"Good Christian Men Rejoice"
"We Three Kings"
and the vocals
"The Angel Gabriel" in the Bardic tradition telling a familiar story
"Lo, How A Rose E're Blooming" one of my favorites
"Il Est Né"
"Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella"
"What Child Is This"
"Fum, Fum, Fum"
"The Coventry Carol"
"I Saw Three Ships"
"In the Bleak Midwinter"
"Infant Holy, Infant Lowly"
"The Holly and the Ivy"
"The Boars Head Carol"
all have the sound and feel as if you are being serenaded by wandering minstrels. It is not perfect, if it was, it would loose its appeal.
For His first CD it stands out as wonderful reminder of where our music came from - before the age of electronics and software that made perfect every nuance and slip of the voice on every track.