Adaro, Schlaraffenland (Inside Out, 2004)

In recent years, Germany has developed a scene for modern, progressive interpretations of Medieval music. I have already reviewed The Best of Corvus Corax for this site; that band combines first-millennium texts with a wall of bagpipes and drums and an over-the-top stage presentation. By contrast, Adaro (named after a creature that is half-human, half-fish) is more accessible. Most of their material comes from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but their rocked-out arrangements are clearly aimed to reach a mainstream audience, at least in their homeland. The band is fronted by Christoph Pelgen and Konstanze Kulinsky (whose appearance reminds me very much of Amy Lee of Evanescence). Besides singing, Pelgen plays whistles and bagpipes while Kulinsky plays the hurdy-gurdy. The band's muscle is supplied by guitarist Jürgen Treyz, bassist Henrik Mumm, and drummer Jörg Bielfeldt.

Their most recent album Schlaraffenland came out in 2004. Schlaraffenland, according to the lyrics of the title song that opens the album, is a mythical place where everything goes right. While most bands who specialize in Medieval material prefer the darker, more violent songs, Adaro generally tries to keep things upbeat and positive. The music varies from very hard rock to soft acoustic ballads, with Pelgen and Kulinsky often finding creative ways to make their instruments fit in. The sound of the German language takes some getting used to -- it lacks the inherent alliteration that made Finnish immediately infectious to me, the percussiveness that gives African songs their punch, or the ethereal quality that makes Gaelic so enchanting -- but it does have its own charm, and grows on you if you let it. Highlights include the title song, the pleasantly melodic "Lieg Still," the aggressive "Minne ist ein suser Nam'," and especially the Medieval mayhem of "Komm her zur mir."

On the whole, I found Schlaraffenland to be quite a bit of fun. I have a slight preference for the darker edginess of The Best of Corvus Corax, but in Adaro's defense, that CD is a compilation of a decade's worth of material while Schlaraffenland is one studio album. For all their archaic trappings, they rock hard and have a pop sensibility, and should appeal to a broad audience in spite of the language barrier.

Overall grade: B+


Scarlet119 said...

Can't say I dig their outfits, but do you recommend the album to me, Mr. G (especially since I might be able to understand the lyrics)?

smg58 said...

Oh sure, they're fun.