AGALLOCH — The White EP

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AGALLOCH - The White EP cover
3.93 | 15 ratings | 4 reviews
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EP · 2008

Filed under Non-Metal
By AGALLOCH

Tracklist

1. The Isle of Summer (3:58)
2. Birch Black (2:40)
3. Hollow Stone (4:15)
4. Pantheist (7:17)
5. Birch White (3:44)
6. Sowilo Rune (5:40)
7. Summerisle Reprise (4:55)

Total Time: 32:32

Line-up/Musicians

- John Haughm / Vocals, Guitars, Baritone, Ebow, Percussion, Bass
- Don Anderson / Guitars, Piano

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Markus Wolff / Percussion
- Ty Brubaker / Accordion
- Veleda Thorsson / Jews harp, Peruvian ceremonial horn, Goat horn
- Andrea Victoria Knippschild / Cave voice
- Ronn Chick / Keyboards
- Chris Greene / Keyboards

About this release

Released by Vendlus Records, February 29th, 2008.

Limited to 2000 copies.

Thanks to triceratopsoil, IMPF2112, adg211288 for the updates

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AGALLOCH THE WHITE EP reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
After three full-length studio albums and two EPs, it was clear that dark neofolk was a key aspect in the music of AGALLOCH which when combined with black / doom metal and post-rock, created their signature sound that won the world over beginning with the outstanding sophomore album “The Mantle.” After ratcheting up the metal aspects a bit on “Ashes Against The Grain,” AGALLOCH may have amped up the distortion and aggressive bombast a bit but it was still quite apparent that dark neofolk acoustic guitar was the underpinning of the compositional flare that the music was built around. While the first few EPs were basically a collection of leftover tracks that showed a little behind the scenes action of John Haughm and Don Anderson’s innermost musical leanings, THE WHITE EP, displays a completely stripped down journey into AGALLOCH’s most primal musical aspirations and in the process creates their first consistent EP, stylistically speaking.

Technically this is the second and final installment of a pair of EPs that began with “The Grey EP,” but really, screw that. The previous EP was fairly weak and uninspiring. It was nothing more than leftovers from “The Mantle” bin, but THE WHITE EP is something completely different. This collection of seven tracks that meander over the 32 minute mark has a complete life of its own and single-handedly showcases ALLOGACH as first and foremost a dark ambient neofolk band that just happened to dabble in metal on their studio albums. Oh, and these are completely original and have not appeared elsewhere. Unlike the previous offerings, this EP is majestic and sublime. It takes the listener on a journey and one that is a pleasant ride on every stop on the way. The passion is afire and quite apparent simply by reading the cast of characters involved. While the full-length albums were limited to four or five musicians at the most, this one hosts a whopping nine.

THE WHITE EP’s mission becomes obvious from the getgo with the voices of children on the opening “The Isle Of Summer” which were borrowed from the 1973 film “The Wicker Man.” Likewise, the album ends with these same vocal samplings and in the middle develops a rather ritualistic Pagan musical meandering that captures the merging of acoustic folk guitar, electronic ambience, tribal percussion and sounds of nature all intertwined to create an alternative soundtrack to the 1973 film that without a doubt was one of the primary impetuses in the creation of the overall AGALLOCH sound. Listening to this EP is like digging into the soulful essence of a musical act at its primary inspirational level and the fact that AGALLOCH pulls it off so well only showcases the evidence that these guys’ heart and soul was in this every step of the way.

This is primarily an instrumental EP with vocals, albeit whispered, spoken and chanted provide mere supplemental instrumental roles rather than lyrically based. While the acoustic guitar is the primary instrument that drives the parade of chords that coalesce into the melancholic melodies that emerge, there is ample additional instrumentation in the form of timpani based percussion, accordion, synthesizers, jew’s harp and even a Peruvian ceremonial horn. Oh yeah, there’s a goat horn too! While acoustically divine, the electric guitars emerge as an ambient backdrop to great effect and interesting piano runs emerge to create a rather classically inspired connection as well. Despite all these accouterments of timbres and tones, everything really connects seamlessly along with birds chirping alongside dark ambient installations. It seems that everything just flows perfectly from beginning to end.

By the end of this listening experience, it almost seems as if i went on a random hike through the woods in an undisclosed Oregon forest and just happened upon a Pagan ritual underway. Awed by the spectacle, i stopped to observe the entirety as i happened to catch it from its initial opening as i became caught up in the spectacle of it all. The music inspires reflection and inner contemplation upon the physical reality upon which i stand and allows the spirits of the Earth to evolve my consciousness. While neither technically demanding nor commercially distracting, THE WHITE EP nevertheless implements extremely addictive melodic hooks that are augmented by subtle electronic and production techniques yet makes me feel as if this is purely acoustic.

THE WHITE EP is all about atmosphere and emotional upwelling. This is Pagan ritual music at its finest. Perhaps their stint with Nest on they 2004 split inspired a more stripped down approach that eschews the adrenaline inducing emotional responses of metal, but all i have to say is that this is by far the best of the AGALLOCH EPs and despite dropping one of the most characteristic elements of the overall AGALLOCH sound, proves to be quite compelling in its introspective simplicity and soul stirring emotional tugs that inspire a true connection to the natural world much in the way the film “The Wicker Man” was supposed to. I’ve never warmed up to the soundtrack of that film despite its overall popularity and THE WHITE EP has emerged in my world as the perfect alternative soundtrack for what that movie was supposed to make me feel. No metal here at all. Headbangers beware. This is soul stirring dark ambient laced neofolk all the way with some extra layers of electronic sophistication. Brilliant.
The Angry Scotsman
Agalloch's lightest work, in terms of music, this album has very little metal on it. In fact it is almost entirely acoustic guitar, with some electric guitar sometimes fluttering around in the background, hardly any vocals and little percussion. So if you NEED metal...this is not for you. However, please don't look over this one!

"The Isle of Summer" starts with a sample from The Wicker Man of children chanting "we carry death out of the village" fading away as a folk riff comes in. The acoustic guitars carry on throughout as the only heaviness on the release is heard at one part. Some gentle electric guitar takes over near the end.

"Birch Black" has some great folk riffing with, not too heavy, electric guitar filling the background with tribal type pounding percussion and a powerful ending.

"Hollow Stone" is an electronic ambient piece.

"Pantheist" has a pretty similar feel to Birch Black. There are vocals on this song, limited to choir "aahs".

"Birch White" starts with perhaps my favorite riff on the album and features Haughm reciting A.S.J. Tessimond's poem "Birch Tree" in typical deep whispering fashion. His voice, over the absolutely awesome riffing and some bagpipe in the backdrop which adds a haunting, beautiful touch. My favorite song on the EP.

"Sowlio Rune" is quite slow and ambient. Very moving.

"Summerisle Reprise" is a solo piano piece which starts with a familiar sounding melody, I think it is similar to the opening track. The piece moves along at a slow pace, varying slowly throughout with some real subtle electronic ambiance and ends with another sample from The Wicker Man.

Obviously the movie had some impact on the band, and this EP seems more like a dedication to it, than inspired by it. A superb work that is honestly near perfect, but it is not a metal release at all. Not going to try and pretend it is. C'mon though, if you are listening to Agalloch you probably have some taste for non metal, and even if you don't I urge everyone to listen to this. Don't let acoustic folk scare you away, (if it even can) this is a superb work. Lots of awesome folk riffing, great movement both in every song and the overall album, not to mention stunning atmospheres. Agalloch are the masters of creating atmosphere and they do so again with the "The White".

A difficult one here, this is a near perfect release, however is not metal at all, but I simply can't give such a magnificent piece a low rating. A must for any Agalloch fan, and anyone who needs to some music to chill out with.

Four Stars
Conor Fynes
'The White' - Agalloch (9/10)

It is rare to come across an extended play, or other 'shorter' work of music by a band, that I consider one of their most beautiful and profound acheivements. Such is the case with Agalloch's 'White EP' however. A stunning half hour of neo-folk brilliance, the band manages to perfectly capture their trademark aesthetic and mood, despite skirting their heavier musical roots.

Despite being a very stripped down and simple piece of music, Agalloch make sure use of the saying 'less is more.' While the music might be dismissed by some as mere 'ambience' and nothing more, each track has the ability to grab the attention with it's sonic grandeur and deceptively simple beauty. 'The White' (like much of the band's music) is a tribute to nature; the music and soundscaping actively showcasing what it must be like to be surrounded by an endless forest. Acoustic guitars are the order of the day here, although a number of other instruments (ranging from accordion to piano to a ceremonial goat horn) are used to give the music the added warmth and variety it would otherwise suffer without.

Tying the EP together with a concept of sorts, is a series of script excerpts from the 1970's cult horror film 'The Wicker Man,' in which several quotes spoken by actor Christopher Lee are used. While spoken dialogue in music can usually be annoying, things work very well here; bestowing upon the music, an unsettling, existential theme.

A beautiful piece of music, this is a perfect contrast to some of the heavier music the band has done. Although it may have a different sound than the typical black/doom metal the band has built a fanbase upon, there is still the quintessential voice of Agalloch resounding through each meloncholic note.
bonnek
After the astounding Ashes Against The Grain I would greet any sign of life from Agalloch with fervent enthusiasm. In order to keep this kind of fan radicalism under control, Agalloch released this pleasant little EP filled with acoustic winter night music.

It’s named The White and that fits the music just fine. Short melancholic acoustic guitar pieces with touches of electric guitar and subtle tricks out of multiple effect devices dominate this instrumental album. For specialists, the music here will have a strong Ulver ring to it, at least to the Ulver incarnation as it can be heard on the acoustic Nordic folk album Kveldssanger.

Halfway through this short EP, the quality of the pieces start to diminish a bit, but it if this EP gives any hint of the new sounds the band might be integrating in the future, I’ll be even more eager for a new full length then I already was after Ashes Against The Grain.

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