Moulettes – The Bear’s Revenge
Moulettes, who released their eponymous debut album, in 2010, have since progressed into an incredibly refined octet who has given a new meaning to the genre of folk. Appearing alongside acts as established as Mumford & Sons, Paloma Faith and Seasick Steve, Moulettes have quickly shown that they are capable of much more than small festival stages. The release of their new album The Bear’s Revenge plays testament to this. Mixing tranquil interludes with punchy, skilful inputs from cellos, violins, banjos, bassoons, harps and guitars, “boring” is one thing that this band could never be.
The album is as intriguing as it is clever, and using orchestral techniques to accompany beautiful vocal melodies from Hannah Miller, Ruth Skipper and Faye Houston is an inspired decision. There are not many bands that can sound like a choir, an orchestra, a folk band and an acoustic band all at the same time without sounding chaotic. On the contrary, Moulettes sound impeccable in their musical execution, from the racing bows of the violins to the admirable harmonies in the backing vocals.
Sing Unto Me opens the album, and immediately captures the ear of the listener. The complexity of the track, both lyrically and musically is infinitely fascinating. Layer after layer of syncopated rhythm and conjunct melodies show that the band are incredibly skilled, and a varying time signature combined with increase and decrease in volume give the impression that the song tells a story. Whether they want to or not, the music gives the listener the opportunity to imagine. There is a distinct feeling that this track would not in fact sound out of place as the soundtrack to an epic adventure.
This is in fact the case in most songs on the album, and each song leads confidently into the next. Each is a mix of high-pitched violins, rumbling double bass and cleverly executed percussion. Another track particularly worthy of note is Songbird, which is focused more on the band’s acoustic folk capabilities. The vocals are not only perfectly harmonised, but the lyrics have poetic merit on their own. The slow tempo of the song creates an atmosphere of thoughtfulness – a rarity in today’s musical ranks. Though each track on the album differs from one to the next, they all provoke something within the listener – be it excitement, reflection, sadness, or happiness. It is also the case in tracks such as Circle Song that more oriental techniques of percussion, such as wind-chimes and thick-skinned drums that give the idea that not only could the listeners be explorers, but rather that the album was created by explorers.
Moulettes truly are ahead of their time – because the maritime feel of their album, mixed with eclectic folk influences and orchestral instruments of the 18th century are all before our time – and it really does work. It feels modern, but it feels undiscovered. The album is a journey in itself and despite its quirkiness, it is accessible. Assuming the album receives the reception that it deserves, there will be big things in store for Moulettes.