The world of Neo Folk and Apocalyptic Folk over the last 10 yrs has taken on its own world and culture like I never thought it would when I did my As All Die CD for Crowd Control Activites back in 2001. Lux Interna love to have the Epic Acoustic, Kettle Drums and Floor toms strong in the mix with the deep sung male vocals ( think Nick Cave, Tony Wakeford, Current 93) and the lovely female vocals in almost Celtic style. The string arrangement really bring out the sounds of Lux Interna. If you like bands like Blood Axis, Changes, Spiritual Front, Of the Wand and the Moon and of Course Nick Cave then this is crying out to be listened by you. The group sung choruses are fantastic as well. I think this band missed the World Serpent Days as they would have been superstars on that label. There are strong touches of a Gothic past here that are not over played but you can hear them in the Male vocals and the way the violins and cellos are arranged. Another magnificent release in production and scope for Projekt.
After some years of releasing albums in Europe, American group Lux Interna finally got a stateside break with a compilation on Projekt drawing on their earlier releases. However, while A Lantern Carried in Blood and Skin is an accomplished listen in general, it's easier to admire than to love. A large part of it lies with the fact that for a career-spanning release, A Lantern mostly showcases the group in one key mode -- sternly moody music with an overt dark country jones that fits in line with a large number of bands that hold Michael Gira up on the same level as Johnny Cash, often missing the humor, wry or overt, in both. A large part of it has to do with Joshua Gentzke's singing, unsurprisingly -- it's in the deep and commanding vein, but its unvarying nature means the effect can be a bit like Christian Bale's voice when playing Batman -- simultaneously growlingly effective and always on the verge of seeming unintentionally funny. That said, at points he leans toward a more overtly yearning tone, though it often sounds like a weirdly rough emo take on Glenn Danzig, which is very likely not intentional at all. Kathryn Gentzke's singing on "Flowers Under Glass," taking the lead after providing backing harmonies otherwise, provides some variety but it just isn't enough, while moments like the drowned-piano feeling of "Horizon" similarly is too little to make more than a gentle impact. No question that Lux Interna are accomplished enough at what they do, but at the same time there's just not enough there yet for the band to stand out further than the well-worn path it's already on. Rating: 3/5 - Ned Raggett
Während hierzulande bereits eine limitierte EP und die nachfolgenden drei Alben von Lux Interna erschienen, kennt man den Namen in den USA wohl eher zufälligerweise vom Hörensagen. Bis jetzt! Denn dem soll nun Abhilfe geschaffen werden, indem unter dem Titel [a lantern carried in blood and skin] unter der Obhut des Labels Projekt eine Zusammenstellung von Lux Interna erscheint, die einen Überblick über das bisherige Schaffen der Gruppe geben soll. Darauf befindet sich auf einer guten Stunde Spielzeit ein guter Überblick, über die sehr eigene Spielweise von Folk der Band, bei der gerne mal Namen wie Current 93, Backworld, Leonard Cohen und Nick Cave fallen, die aber eher als Einfluss zu nennen sind und weniger als musikalische Referenz.
Man mag sich zunächst wundern, wenn man auf der Titelliste nur zehn Stücke entdeckt, was für eine Werkschau des bisherigen Oeuvres der Band wenig erscheinen mag – sieht man dann aber noch einmal die bereits angesprochene Spielzeit von über einer Stunde, so erscheint das alles gar nicht mehr so verwunderlich. Lux Interna schreiben eben keine knackigen Drei-Minuten-Popsongs, sondern gehen tief und weiten ihre Arrangements aus. Die Stücke entfalten sich, wollen den Hörer im Inneren berühren – das braucht seine Zeit. Und die sei den Stücken absolut gegönnt, denn Langeweile kommt hier zu keiner Zeit auf, obgleich die Stücke selten unter der Sechs-Minuten-Marke liegen. Musikalisch gefüllt sind die Stücke mit Akustikgitarre, Streichinstrumenten, Keyboard sowie dem eingängigen Gesang von Kathryn auf der einen und der tiefen – aber nicht weniger eingängigen – Stimme Joshuas.
Was auffällt ist, dass der Fokus der Titelauswahl vor allem auf God Is Not Dead For The Birds und Ignis Mutat Res – den letzten zwei Alben der Band – liegt. Allerdings: Gerade auf diesen Alben finden sich auch viele der stärksten Stücke der Formation, wie beispielsweise A Season Apart. Keyboard, dezente Perkussion und gezupfte Gitarre bilden einen mehrminütigen Auftakt, der getragen wird von Joshuas Stimme, der sich allmählich steigert, in ein düster-treibendes Folk-Stück weitet und dabei auch dramatisches Violinenspiel aufnimmt. Ein Stück, das auf guten acht Minuten Länge immer opulenter wird und Lux Interna auf voller Länge in ihrer ganzen Stärke zeigt. Die in diesem Titel offenbar werden Qualitäten der Gruppe äußern sich auch in den anderen Stücken, so dass es müßig wäre, hier nun jedes einzelne Stück zu besprechen.
Resümiert man über diese Veröffentlichung, so hat man vor allem eine gelungene CD von Lux Interna, die den Hörern in den USA zeigt, was sie bisher verpasst haben, während der hiesige Hörer einen guten Überblick bekommt, falls seine bisherige Sammlung dieser Gruppe eher spärlich bestückt sein sollte. Schade allerdings ist, dass man die Debüt-EP Truth and beauty and all their severity ganz ausgespart hat. Zwar ist die gute Stunde Musik nicht gerade wenig, aber Kapazität wäre durchaus noch gewesen und Stücke wie Secret Heart of the World hätten sich nicht nur hervorragend in die Zusammenstellung eingefügt, sondern auch den Charakter der Werkschau weiter unterstrichen. Aber auch ohne Titel dieser Veröffentlichung gibt es ansonsten nichts weiter zu beklagen. Eine schöne Zusammenstellung!
Lux Interna is an American band that, at the moment, have released their music only in Europe (four albums on Eis Und Licht, the same label that released Forseti, Sonne Hagal, etc.) and this is the first time that they have a domestically available release. A LANTERN CARRIED IN BLOOD AND SKIN is a compilation of ten songs coming from the four albums "Truth and Beauty and All Their Severity", "Absence and Plenum", "Ignis Mutat Res" and "God is Not Dead for the Birds". Musically the band has been compared to Nick Cave, Backworld, etc. because of their intimate atmospheres and for their acoustic guitars driven sound which sometimes is accompanied by piano, strings and light percussions. If you want me to do a clearer comparison, well listen to the Nick Cave song "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (yes the one which had Kylie Minogue as guest vocals) and make it sound a little more minimal. This is pretty much as Lux Interna sound on this compilation. They sound more decadent rather than dark compared to Sonne Hagal or :Of The Wand & The Moon:. Only two songs coming from "Ignis Mutat Res" ("Lange Mußt Du Leiden" and "Distance") have darker atmospheres and I found them more intriguing. Anyway, this album is a good overview of the Lux Interna past releases and if you were interested into checking their music, it could be a perfect start point. Rating 3.5/5 - Maurizio Pustianaz.
[a lantern carried in blood and skin] is an anthology from the American group Lux Interna compiled for the US label Projekt containing a selection of tracks from the three Lux Interna albums (Absence and Plenum, Ignis Mutat Res, :God Is Not Dead For The Birds: ) issued by the German label Eis & Licht. Lux Interna formed in 1999 and the material stretches back to 2002 recorded at various points during their travels in Europe and in their native homeland of America.
With their songs steeped in a spiritual and romantic tradition Lux Interna sit within the dark folk genre. Their music is primarily acoustic folk, swathed in string arrangements, but just as their erudite and poetic lyrics delivered by the twin vocalists, Joshua and Kathryn Gentzke, seek to locate the divine, their music strives to break free of the confines of the neo-folk genre. [a lantern carried in blood and skin] carries elements of dark Americana, ethereal folk music, misty atmospherics and at points the voices combine to create something closer to country and western.
You can piece together the trajectory of the group through the selection of tracks from the skeletal acoustic tracks of 'For An Autumn Girl' and 'Flowers Under Glass', where Kathryn's delicate tones takes the lead over the still, frosted setting of piano, guitar and tambourine accompaniment. These contributions from Absence and Plenum are sparse when compared to the rich arrangements of Ignis Mutat Res. The forceful ringing dark folk and dramatic strings of 'Horizon' where Joshua Gentzke voice resonates deeply, shadowed by the smooth gentle female voice of his wife, Kathryn is a strong opening track. And while 'Horizon' shares an affinity with fellow Americans Backworld, 'A Season Apart' captures a feeling of desperation as Gentzke's impassioned cries break over heavy piano chords, giving way to rolling drums before settling into a sort of decadent European feel as violins scrape furiously as an agglomeration of voices combine to intone: "this rune is carved in skin, yet deeper within..." It's impressive stuff.
Lux Interna really reach their pinnacle on the songs from last year's :God Is Not Dead For The Birds: The songs are wonderfully constructed, laced with Christian symbolism and strewn with references to the seasons and the elements. Both 'Into Nothing (Blackwatersong)' and 'Your Lily White Hands' are especially good. Joshua's strained emotive deep voice contrasts with the light ethereal backing of Kathryn on the plaintive acoustic strum of 'Into Nothing (Blackwatersong)'. "Sail on into nothing" the voices sing as a violin plays a mournful melody. Better still is 'Your Lily White Hands' a breezy number of acoustic pick and strum, tremeloed guitar and string arrangements where Joshua's cracked drawl is softened by the gentle female harmonies. A wonderful track comparable to Michael Gira's work as the Angels of Light.
There's a warmth to 'Fallen', as the voices merge over a lilting ballad of acoustic guitars augmented by cello, dulcimer and mandolin. 'Blossoms', a gentle piano ballad with finger picked guitar, is captivating in its simplicity, Gentzke's impassioned voice declaring that "we envy the flight of the birds, for whom god is not dead" with a breathy female accompaniment that pushes this into almost dark country territory.
[a lantern carried in blood and skin] is awash with references to feelings of emptiness and nothingness as Joshua Gentzke wrestles with the question of existence and what it means to be human. That it is dressed up in a set of dreamily sad and haunting songs with a take on Christianity that's as distinctive as that of David Tibet and Nick Cave is a testament to their worth. [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is a worthwhile entry to the world of Lux Interna but interested readers may care to also check out the Eis & Licht release :God Is Not Dead For The Birds: a more fully realised release that captures the current sound of Lux Interna.
A review from Compulsion Online:
Fra i gruppi più sottovalutati del 'nuovo folk' ci sono senza dubbio gli americani Lux Interna, fra i primi di tale sfortunata lista almeno per quanto attiene al filone più acustico, intimo e poetico del settore, per intenderci quello che ben poco (quando non addirittura nulla) ha a che fare con rune e seconda guerra mondiale. Curioso constatare come ciò sia potuto accadere ad un gruppo che, tra il 2001 ed il 2007, ha rilasciato i suoi quattro lavori per quella Eis & Licht che è fra le più credibili e stimate etichette del settore, ma forse, nemmeno troppo maliziosamente, tale 'colpa' si può imputare proprio all'assenza di rune, toni marziali e campionamenti da cinegiornale di cui sopra, che tanto spazio occupano ancora nel panorama odierno della cosiddetta 'brown area'... Niente di male nel seguire certe 'correnti' piuttosto che altre, a patto che poi non si lasci giacere nell'indifferenza il lavoro di una band come quella capitanata da Joshua Levi Ian Gentzke e dalla sua bella consorte Kathryn, affinato con gli anni ed ormai giunto ad un livello formale ed emotivo rimarchevole. La band di San Francisco realizza oggi il suo primo lavoro 'americano' grazie al deal raggiunto con la Projekt, etichetta ovviamente più adatta della tedesca Eis & Licht a promuovere a dovere l'opera del quintetto nel mercato statunitense, se non altro per motivi prettamente logistici. Al momento non sappiamo dirvi se in futuro l'accordo con la celebre etichetta americana procederà parallelamente alle stampe europee su Eis & Licht (come è probabile), ma quel che è certo è che il sound della band negli ultimi anni si è decisamente avvicinato alle coordinate stilistiche della label di Sam Rosenthal, e quindi non ci stupiremmo se in futuro fosse proprio la Projekt a farsi carico di realizzare i lavori dei Lux Interna a livello globale, vista la sua forte presenza anche sul mercato europeo. Senza dubbio la release in esame è comunque destinata al mercato prettamente americano, per intenderci quello che non ha avuto modo di scoprire la band attraverso la Eis & Licht, salvo magari quei pochi yankee che ogni tanto si fanno un viaggetto in quel di Lipsia per il WGT e/o acquistano online attraverso i mailorder. "[A Lantern Carried In Blood And Skin]" è infatti una raccolta dei migliori brani sinora registrati dal gruppo nell'arco dei suoi quattro lavori 'europei', anche se ad onor del vero il debutto ufficiale, ossia il 10" "Truth And Beauty And All Their Severity", non è stato minimamente toccato... Trattasi quindi di un compendio di 10 canzoni che toccano tutti e tre i full-length pubblicati dai nostri, con due estratti da "Absence And Plenum" (2002) e quattro brani a testa da "Ignis Mutat Res" (2004) e "God Is Not Dead For The Birds" (2007). Poco più di un'ora di musica per (ri)scoprire le sonorità dei cinque americani, totalmente impregnate di intimismo acustico ed ariosità tipicamente folk, fra ballate delicate (la pregiata "Into Nothing"), episodi densi di grigiore (la più datata "For An Autumn Girl"), momenti più drammatici ("Flowers Under Glass", cantata da Kathryn, e la più teatrale e strutturata "A Season Apart") e persino qualcosa di più 'solare' e 'pop' ("Your Lily White Hands"). Da segnalare anche la malinconica "Blossoms", l'oscura e ben costruita "Lange Mußt Du Leiden" (che trasuda puro rimpianto) ed il gioiellino finale, l'eterea ed evanescente "Distance", anch'essa dominio di Kathryn. Quello dei Lux Interna è un suono che si è affinato rapidamente con gli anni attraverso l'incrocio vocale sempre più bilanciato dei coniugi Gentzke ed il sapiente innesto di spunti neoclassici, sino a giungere ad alte vette di passionalità, intensità e verve poetica, ed i 10 estratti inclusi in questa raccolta (ben confezionata nel gradevole digipack, completo di booklet coi testi) ne sono la miglior testimonianza pratica. Di certo questa release non avrà alcuna utilità per chi già possiede le opere del gruppo americano, essendo purtroppo sprovvista di inediti (unica vera pecca, unita al fatto che almeno altri 2-3 brani si potevano includere), ma se qualcuno qui da noi dovesse ancora scoprire le qualità dei Lux Interna, potrebbe partire proprio da questo dischetto... Rating: 7/10 - Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
The Projekt label in America tend to favour the darker shades of music – and Lux Interna seem to symbolize the more psychedelic Nick Cave inspired sensibilities as opposed to the ethereal gothic trends that Projekt usually has under its wing.
It is an interesting album as it has been written and recorded over a seven-year period over two continents and several countries. So a traveling piece then? And such a beautiful one at that. There is Joshua L I Gentzke’s commanding and heavy vocals. Sometimes he beats along as if he were an instrument himself, but his voice never intrudes on the sometimes wistful strings around him and floating backing vocals.
What is probably missing from a self pro-claimed album produced over different lands and waters is the feeling of global influence. The feel of the album is ultimately from one background, the band just happened to be elsewhere when producing the work. That gripe aside, this is an impressive performance piece. It almost threatens to become theatrical in ‘A Season Apart.’ The pace leaps from a very staged folk, to almost operatic thundering.
As this is a compilation of previously released material it may well be worth checking out the back catalogue to see what other material they have hidden away. There are indications of pastures new in the soothing finale of ‘Distance’, which seems almost a world away from the folk, gothic tempo that builds the album. - Steven Hurst
Lux Interna presents selections from earlier European albums in this domestic release. It still seems ironic to say so, but their grave, Romantic aesthetic, gothic vocals and crisp determined chords are very comforting, setting a tone of idealism and camaraderie. in keeping with their style, the cadence of the lyrics at times comes second to their message, but the sense that the music is born of a long tradition of song writing, linked to nature and to venerable symbols, is uninterrupted. Lead vocalist Joshua Gentzke"s presence is strong without bombast, set off by accompaniment from Kathryn Gentzke, whose solo tracks, excepting he wide-horizoned "Distance," are generally paler and softer. The inclusion of instruments such as the dulcimer and the cello adds depth, color and finer detail. - Carolee
I have to shamefully admit that the first time I heard this band was on the recent Projekt sampler with the inclusion of their track "into nothing (blackwatersong)". I was immediately pleased with this track as it quickly became a favorite from that disc. So now we finally have something for North American neo-folk fans to enjoy from this grab. This disc is an excellent introduction to those of us unfortunate enough to have missed out on their previous three European releases. We're presented with ten tracks that span these previously released albums with a little bit from each one all packaged in a beautiful digipak with booklet containing band info, beautiful artwork and lyrics.
As I've listened to other anthology albums, in general you can always detect how the band has progressed or changed over the years, in some cases quite drastically. While there are slight differences between tracks on this album, I thought it was interesting how well they all came together. If I didn't know any different, I would have said that this was just a new album released by this band all recorded within the space of a few months. This shows how well the band has maintained their direction and style over the years through thought-provoking lyrics, deep vocals oftentimes harmonized with soft female vox or joined together in a chorus of all (or many) band members. Then the smooth musical compositions that come together very well with occasional violin, soft cello and synthesized strings and piano, but with the ever-present softly strummed acoustic guitar grounding the folk elements for a solid foundation.
If I were to get into each piece on this album, this review would turn into a novel. There is so much that I enjoy about each track as I go through each selection and pick them apart. The first few pieces really come out with powerful and captivating emotions accented by the heavy percussion and moving guitar on "horizon" and "into nothing (blackwatersong)". This latter piece still remains a favorite even on this album among so many stellar pieces invoking thoughts and feelings of longing or nostalgia before or after a long journey or when a loved one sets off on their own long journey through life. While I love Joshua's deep and moody vocals, the addition of Kathryn on backing vocals or even when she takes the solo part on "flowers under glass" is spellbinding to say the least, launching this band from folk to ethereal in a second.
As the album moves on there are pieces where the tempo and even mood picks up from dark and brooding to almost revelry if you can imagine that. "for an autumn girl" is slightly unique in this way with the added keyboards, but the spirits are lifted a bit on "your lily white hands" with it's lilting groove and tambourine. The album drifts along from one emotional piece to the next until it finally comes to a close with "distance". I though this was a perfect finale to this album and is the most unique piece on this album really standing out among the rest in style as Kathryn takes the vocals and the strumming guitar is notably absent and replaced by ambient sound scapes and soft, subtle guitar instead. This happens to be one of the first tracks with heavy rotation on the Gothic Paradise ethereal radio show and whenever I hear it, I think it's actually a piece from All My Faith Lost and have to keep double-checking to see if it really is Lux Interna. The bottom line is that this is an awesome track and certainly a bonus on this album taken from their previous album Ignis Mutat Res which makes me want to go out and pick it up to see if there's anything else like this on their other works.
Well, there you have it, another captivating group on the Projekt label for us to enjoy. I look forward to several more albums from this band of this caliber and I'm sure they could do it. In the meantime we'll certainly enjoy this as well as the other previous releases that we can get our hands on. Rating: 5/5
The American neofolk outfit Lux Interna around Joshua and Kathryn Gentzke have released three albums so far via the German label Eis & licht. The band is known for its melancholic flavoured neofolk inspired by literary, metaphysical and European historic themes. Despite the fact Lux Interna is an American band, a domestic release had not yet been achieved. A selection of the material from recordings is now compiled on the US album debut via Projekt records. The vocals from Joshua go well together with the second voice from Kathryn and his dark baritone voice recalls comparisons with artists such as Andrew eldritch, while the dark songs itself actually are more in the tradition of artists such as Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. Musically the sound of Lux Interna at times closely resembles dark pop, alternative or country. Also comparisons with the neofolk of Backworld and Forseti are in place here, but this mostly is due to the somewhat darker tone of the material taken from the album Ignis Mutat Res. The album contains gems dominated by acoustic guitar, like ‘Into Nothing (Blackwater Song)’ and ‘Fallen’, taken from the most recent album Gos is Not Dead for the Birds. Further instrumentation consists of piano, violin and cello. The atmosphere in the songs often touches upon the decadent. Lux Interna is among the musically more gifted neofolk bands. It is most welcome that the music of Lux Interna will be better available in America. This band deserves a bit more domestic attention and recognition. Rating: 8/10 by TekNoir.
If you're going to make music that is doleful, then you've got to do an excellent job. Otherwise your music becomes boring and depressing and no one wants that combination. You might be able to tell from these opening words that I'm not the biggest fan of 'neo folk'. As a result I haven't investigated the genre deeply, so despite the fact that this is an anthology of their first four albums, this is the first time I've heard the music of Lux Interna. And I have to say I am quietly impressed.
"Horizon" has the traditional neo folk guitar and sparse instrumentation. Lux Interna add a winsome female vocal to the mix. There are also instrumental interludes that build satisfactorily, which keep things interesting. Joshua Gentzke provides the deep-voiced vocals. He will appeal to fans of Nick Cave or Brad Roberts of Crash Test Dummies. Though this song is over six minutes long the way the female vocals come to the fore means it doesn't get dull. "Into Nothing (Blackwatersong)" features an ominous cello, while the tone of the lyrics is apocalyptic There is talk of watching 'the buildings tumble' and 'grey tattered steel' yet the music has an idyllic feel. Maybe after the end of the world there will be peace for the planet. "Fallen" provides another melancholy mood, but there's a hint of R.E.M. in the music's innate tunefulness. The mix of voice and violin recalls Tindersticks at their more thoughtful. A religious theme makes itself evident in the enigmatic lines that finish the song: 'There's one house empty in Jerusalem tonight/Turn out the light.'
Strange space age noises float through "For An Autumn Girl", providing the meringue to the lemon of the strummed acoustic guitars. There is a pagan feel to Lux Interna's music. The band are fascinated by blood, bone and night. The nature images during this song are also central to the band's ethos. The guitar that chimes dramatically as Joshua sings: 'A drink to the death of endings' is particularly effective. It would seem that the toast of the previous song had little effect as "Flowers Under Glass" is filled with death. Thankfully the music is beautiful enough to entice the listener onwards. Fragile sounding Kathryn Gentzke takes the lead, which adds variety. The pace picks us unexpectedly towards the end of the song, jarring the unwary listener into paying greater attention.
"Your Lily White Hands" has a Blues feel with a jaunty rhythm, and an introduction and coda, which features plucked guitar. The ripples of electric guitar are effective. "A Season Apart" is the mutant offspring of latter-day Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Three minutes in, the pace picks up a little, a minute later things go carnival. It's like listening to Saint-Sans's Danse Macabre. It's spooky, thrilling and unexpected. This is another long song over eight minutes but Lux Interna provide enough change to justify this extended running length. There's more nature imagery during "Blossoms", which contains more ruminations on divinity: 'We envy the flight of the birds/For whom god is not dead.' Are the band speculating that by getting closer to nature we are getting closer to a state of grace?
The dulcimer and cello on "Lange Must Du Leiden" gives the song a Dead Can Dance-feel, though neither Lisa Gerrard nor Brendan Perry ever gave a spoken word performance as Joshua and Kathryn do here. There's a palpable sense of menace and many stops to go before we reach our destination. "Distance" is the last song, with Kathryn once again taking the lead. Her voice complements the way the keyboards ebb and flow. A subtle guitar echoes across the frozen landscape. An arctic wind blows. There is sadness here, but beauty too. A good night's sleep is one of the greatest gifts you can give a loved one. This song could help them drift off to strange and magical lands.
A Lantern Carried In Blood and Skin paints the band as thoughtful troubadours. The music is serious, but never dour. It shows unexpected twists and turns, both musical and lyrical. Lux Interna show you can make gold regardless of your raw materials, if you have the philosopher's stone of inspiration. Rating 7/10 - Stuart Moses.
After three full-length releases on the German Eis + Licht label and numerous compilation appearances, this anthology from American dark folk group Lux Interna offers an opportunity to reassess the band’s progress over the past decade. I’m not really familiar enough with the Lux Interna back catalogue to be able to judge whether the selection of songs on [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is the best possible representation of the band’s work, although I’m sorry that ‘The Parting Song’ from their 2002 debut full-length Absence And Plenum isn’t here. The ten tracks of the anthology are drawn from Lux Interna’s three albums – there’s nothing from their 2001 debut 10” mini-album Truth and Beauty And All Their Severity, and there’s also no previously unreleased material, which might have been a good thing to include for those who already own all the earlier albums.
[a lantern carried in blood and skin] opens with ‘Horizon’ from 2004’s Ignis Mutat Res, which is something of a signature tune for Lux Interna, having also been released on the Eisiges Light label sampler and on the compilation album Looking For Europe. ‘Horizon’ features all the typical elements of the Lux Interna sound, with an emotionally charged blend of rapture and despair passionately evoked through the voice and strummed acoustic guitar of the band’s founder, singer-songwriter Joshua Gentzke, with backing vocals from Kathryn Gentzke, organ and piano from Kevin Sweet, cello from Katherine Trimble and drums from Shane Halanan, as well as several guest musicians. Like Amber Asylum or Werkraum, Lux Interna’s music is characterised by ensemble playing of acoustic instruments, blending elements derived from folk music and neo-classical chamber music.
The second track of the album, ‘Into Nothing (Blackwatersong)’, taken from last year’s album :God Is Not Dead For The Birds:, is the absolute highlight of the collection as far as I’m concerned, with subdued, wistful cello and organ providing the musical backbone for an ecstatically melancholy celebration of oblivion, simultaneously warm and chilling – a great soundtrack for a wine-soaked, solipsistic wallow in despair. Joshua Gentzke’s wonderfully rich, deep baritone voice has often prompted comparisons with singers like Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Backworld’s Joseph Budenholzer, and whilst Joshua’s voice is certainly reminiscent of all these artists (and also Stuart Staples of Tindersticks), there’s a distinctive twist of dark Americana about Lux Interna which reminds me more of bands like the much-neglected Walkabouts, And that combination of male and female vocals from Joshua and Kathryn also has a certain amount in common with the Gira and Jarboe double-act of mid-period Swans, although to be sure, Lux Interna’s music tends to be a less harrowing experience than that of the Swans, with its undeniable darkness more reminiscent of the regressive, world-denying comforts of the womb than the cold obliteration of the grave.
The lilting chimes and mandolin of ‘Fallen’ lend this song a lighter, more soothing and lyrical atmosphere than its precedessors, and ‘Flowers Under Glass’ features solo vocals from Kathryn – her remote, spectral voice is less immediately attractive and compelling than Joshua’s, but it has a certain ethereal charm. Kathryn also sings the album’s closing track, ‘Distance’. It’s really in the contrast and interplay between Joshua’s and Kathryn’s voices, though, that a lot of Lux Interna’s appeal lies. ‘Your Lily White Hands’ is another particularly strong song, with mandolin and cello prominent in the sumptuous acoustic textures. Two songs on [a lantern carried in blood and skin] both include texts from writers other than Joshua Gentzke, who otherwise writes all of Lux Interna’s lyrics. ‘Lange Mußt Du Leiden’ includes words from the famous German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and ‘Blossoms’ includes an excerpt from ‘Psalm’, by the poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Célan.
In the best tradition of prophets being without honour in their own country, Lux Interna have up till now been more appreciated in Europe, particularly Germany, than in America. Hopefully, this collection, their first on an American label, will bring their music to greater prominence in their homeland, because, although they’re usually referred as a neo-folk band, an impression reinforced by their association with the German label Eis Und Licht, it does seem to me that Lux Interna’s music has an American gothic flavour which is a strength they could play to more. In any case, [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is certainly a good place for the uninitiated to begin their Gnostic quest towards ‘the innermost light’
If like myself you’re a fan of the neo-folk genre, then the name Lux Interna should mean something to you, even if it’s just a spark of recognition, as they have had four releases since 2001 on the Eis & Licht label, as well as contributing a track to the genre-exploring ‘Looking For Europe’ 4-CD compilation. With the release of ‘[a lantern carried in blood and skin]’, the band’s latest offering, they have compiled a collection of their best works from the Eis & Licht albums and released them as an introductory anthology on the US-based Projekt label.
Based around the core backbone of male vocals and acoustic guitar, Lux Interna do seem to sit very nicely within the neo-folk genre alongside highly revered contemporaries such as Of the Wand and Moon and Backworld, yet to describe the band as simply a neo-folk band is wholly inaccurate, and could easily be seen as nothing more than lazy journalism, as singer-songwriter Joshua Gentzke and his assembly of musical compatriots have created a sound transcending the confines of the genre’s limitations with a great flair, charm and seductive quality, that does nothing but scream a level of quality and musicianship that is truly special.
Joining Joshua’s deep vocals and immensely catchy acoustic guitar are the seductive, almost ethereal vocals of Kathryn Gentzke, who also contributes percussion, and an array of other musical accompaniments such percussion, piano, keyboards and cello are supplied by the band’s other members Kevin Sweet (piano, keyboards, hammer dulcimer), Shane Halinan (percussion), and Katherine Trimble (cello). With the use of such a wide spectrum of musical instruments aside from the trusty acoustic guitar, it’s quite easy to imagine that Lux Interna could be producing an overall sound that delivers a little more than usually expected from the neo-folk genre in its most basic terms, but it’s not until you fully explore the ten tracks that make up this compilation, that you realise but how impressively and captivatingly they manage to do this.
Whilst nowadays it seems that a vast number of bands are quite rapidly employing a range of styles and ideas to make that move away from what would normally be associated as neo-folk, whether it be more rock elements, a pop sensibility or even the inclusion of a danceable beat here or there, it seems like almost every avenue is recently being explored, so the idea of doing something a little different or adding an unusual twist to the genre isn’t such an alien prospect, which is a huge strength which Lux Interna possess. In fact, if truth be told, it’s evident, on working through this anthology of tracks, that this is a tactic that the band have employed throughout their past, as they seem to have found themselves labelled as neo-folk from the outset, thanks in part I think to their initial record label, although their music has always been more than just that. Whilst of course there is nothing at all wrong with being labelled neo-folk, I feel like a band such as Lux Interna deserve a much greater recognition than they have so far received from the genre, as their music offers so much more than the European aesthetic that the genre is renowned for.
Utilising an illuminating and deeply compelling range of styles and sounds to partner the band’s neo-folk qualities is one of their many strengths, as is the presentation and delivery of the music itself. Combining a subtle amalgamation of traditional folk, Americana, a touch of American folk, the slightest glimpse of dark country and a swathe of ethereal, they produce a hugely impressive and captivating set of songs that are a sheer joy to listen to, with each track delivering a slightly different element of Lux Interna’s multifaceted sound.
A perfect example of this is one of the album’s high points, the bewitching ‘Your Lily White Hands’, which is a wonderful mixture of strummed acoustic guitar, sublimely delicate female vocals, cello and percussion, which results in a sound that sits somewhere between the deep-south Americana of Nick Cave, the seductive folk of Backworld and the darker elements of latter-day Johnny Cash. And this is just one example of the brilliantly diverse sound that this collection is able to deliver, as it picks the very best tracks from the band’s previous albums.
With an appeal which will no doubt stretch way beyond the neo-folk genre, fans of Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Michael Gira’s Angels of Light will be able to gain something wonderfully enjoyable and highly interesting from this collection.
Housed in an impressively presented digipack with a 16-page booklet, it would appear that Projekt are investing a huge amount of energy and faith in this release. And rightly so, as it shows immense promise, and could catapult Lux Interna’s music to a much wider audience, who will undoubtedly receive it with great gusto.
‘[a lantern carried in blood and skin]’ is one of the best neo-folk related releases I’ve heard for sometime, and is wholeheartedly recommended to anyone who is broadminded enough to appreciate the quality, style and charm of Lux Interna’s superbly captivating and emotive music. Quite simply stunning! - Lee Powell
[a lantern carried in blood and skin] is an anthology of songs from Lux Interna's past albums and marks their first release intended for a US audience. Lux Interna work in the dark folk vein, and their music is a study in stunning sonic pairings and counterpoints. The main component of their sound is an acoustic guitar, strummed with melancholy, which is punctuated with strings, keyboards, and dulcimer. Joshua Levi Ian Gentzke provides baritone vocals that vary from a deep, earnest strength to whispery quietude, but here again the main aesthetic component finds an interesting contrast in Kathyrn C. Gentzke's nearly-spectral vocals. The thematics of their lyrics also possess a compelling duality; their aesthetic is equal parts esoteric and organic. Projekt has done those of us in the US a good turn by releasing [a lantern carried in blood and skin], and Lux Interna certainly deserves more attention in their homeland, so here's hoping that this album finds the right ears. And I must once again proclaim that the desolation of New York inspires great things... Rating: 4/5 Jack
Mensch, mal wieder was Neues von Lux Interna?! Cool. Aber nein, aber ja, aber nein! Irgendwie doch nicht was (ganz!) Neues, lediglich neu verpackt und sozusagen zusammengestellt.
Nachdem ihre drei bisherigen Alben in der europäischen Neo Classic Folk Underground Szene einige Eindrücke hinterlassen haben, gibt es nun mit [a lantern carried in blood and skin] eine Art “Best of – Compilation”. Jedoch war der Gedanke dazu zunächst ein ganz anderer. Dieses mit zehn Stücken im wunderschönen Digi & Artworkdesign sowie einer Spielzeit von mehr als einer Stunde ausgestattete Album war zunächst bloß für den amerikanischen Markt gedacht. Schließlich ist das Projekt um Kopf und Hauptsongwriter Joshua L. I. Gentzke in seinem Heimatland eher nicht so bekannt, wie es eben hierzulande in der Szene zu sein scheint. Glück für die Amis, als auch nun für uns. Projekt Records machen es möglich.
Die ausgewählten Stück der drei bisherigen Alben "absence and plenum" 2002, "ignis mutat res" 2004 & "god is not dead for the birds" 2007 (alle bei Eislicht Verlag) gehen einem wirklich unter die Haut. Sie wirken zerbrechlich, mitfühlend und stimmen einen nachdenklich! Genau so muss man sich in diesem Genre bewegen. Lux Interna wissen zu überzeugen und einen zum Träumen, Abschalten zu bringen. Doch wie schon bei u.a. dem dritten Werk von 2007 merkt man in all den Stücken, dass die Stimme von Joshua einfach genial ist. Auch wenn man sich dabei -hier und dort- nicht davor entziehen kann einen Mix aus Nick Cave, Andrew Eldritch und Marcus Testory zu hören. Ja, allein die Stimme macht diese melancholischen Stücke so enorm interessant.
Doch ich muss fairer weise erwähnen, dass leider die weiblichen Stimme von Kathryn C. Gentzke nicht wirklich den Erwartungen einer sehr guten und dafür passenden Stimme erfüllt, was einen Song wie z.B. „flowers under glass“ etwas schlechter aussehen lässt. Aber na ja, neben einer Stimme wie der von Joshua ist das auch nicht einfach wirklich zu 100% zu bestehen.
Daher will ich allgemein mal festhalten: Freunde des Genres (also Fans von u.a. Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Woven Hand, Nebelung und Orplid dürfen zugreifen..., die die Originalalben aus dem Hause Eis & Licht Verlag noch nicht im Schrank stehen haben, kommen an [a lantern carried in blood and skin] nicht vorbei. Und wer schon u.a. „god is not dead for the birds” besitzt, kommt an diesem Release auch nicht vorbei. Schließlich trägt allein schon das schöne Artwork/Digipak dazu bei es sei eigen nenne zu sollen.
Fazit: Eine wirklich tolle Zusammenstellung der schönen, wohlklingenden und tief ergreifenden Stücke einer außergewöhnlich melancholischen Band. Rating: 4/5
Lux Internas Alben sind bislang ausschliesslich in Europa erschienen. Umso erstaunlicher, wenn man weiss, dass die Heimat der Band in den USA liegt. Mit „[A Lantern Carried In Blood And Skin]“ erscheint nun endlich auf Projekt auch in den USA ein erstes Album der Band um Joshua und Kathryn Gentzke, zusammengestellt aus den ersten vier Veröffentlichungen in Europa, die 10“ EP „Truth And Beauty And All Their Severity“ allerdings ausgenommen. An Leidenschaft und an Kraft hat nicht einer der hier zehn vertretenen Songs über die Jahre seit seiner Erstveröffentlichung verloren, im Gegenteil. Die Musik Lux Internas ist und bleibt zeitlos und auch, wenn man Lux Interna gerne ausschliesslich dem Dark Folk zuordnet, so ist das, was die Exil-Amerikaner mit Wohnsitz in Amsterdam bieten, ein deutliches mehr an musikalischen wie auch lyrischen Einflässen, eine Genre übergreifende Bestandsaufnahme zeitgemässer Folkmusik, deren Wurzeln sicher bei Künstlern wie Leonard Cohen oder auch Backworld liegen. Wer bei Liedern wie „Fallen“, „Your Lily White Hands“ oder dem von Rainer Maria Rilke geschriebenen und hier vertonten Text von „Lange musst du leiden“ nicht die ganze Passion für das künstlerische Schaffen Lux Internas begreift, dem ist definitiv nicht zu helfen.
A review from Sepia Chord:
The term "folk music" is a strange one. Originally it meant the music of the everyday man or indigenous peoples, music that was "common" in the best sense of the world.
It was also a music that needed preserving in our modern times.
But this preservation led to a following and this following lead to contemporary singers and musicians adopting instrumentation and stylings that they felt was representative of "folk" music. As such people like Bob Dylan weren't real folk musicians the moment they started writing their own songs. The minute that happened folk music became *something else*.
And Lux Interna are definitely something else. This San Francisco based five piece work acoustic instruments and mournful, moody voices into remarkable songs that echo folk music.
But their instrumentation can be misleading. Katherine Tremble is an amazing cello player, but the cello is an instrument of chamber music and drawing rooms, not of folk music.
So what are Lux Interna? The term neo-folk has been bandied about for over a decade now, long enough to take on it's own cultural baggage. But neo-folk is often simple and intentionally plain.
Lux Interna are not. The songs found on [a lantern carried in blood and skin] are meticulously crafted and the instruments are weaved together into a stirring orchestration. Yes, we encounter mandolin and concertina on these songs but this is still the work of a genteel hand, not of the calloused work-man's fingers.
And Lux Interna are all the better for it. Now that we cast aside folk music we can really listen. The dark richness of this recording collection finds its closest kin with goth music. The songs are haunting and beautiful. Joshua L.I. Gentzke's vocal's are sonorous and intentionally unsubtle. Kathryn Gentzke's voice is soft and restrained, counterpointing Joshua's. While the music may be dark (as the band and the CD's name implies) there is luminescence that shines through.
The end result is something that is both ominous and delicate. Like a spirit left clinging to the mortal world intent on delivering one last whisper, yet capable of being dispelled by sideways glance.
If you're new to the band don't worry, [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is their first American issued release and happens to contain work from their previous issues. As such it's a perfect place to catch up with Lux Interna.
This album is actually a compilation of tracks taken from Lux Interna’s four albums to date and aimed at the American market. This European neo-folk band has got a huge potential and already established itself a strong reputation on the dark scene. It’s thus with no surprise that the prestigious Projekt label from Sam Rosenthal decided to take them under its wings. If you appreciate intimate atmospheres and acoustic ballads you’ll be enchanted by the brilliants tracks offered here. The vocals are also nicely refined and worked out, while the instrumentations range from sober acoustic guitars to more developed orchestral arrangements. These guys completely know and master the way to create melancholic tunes with great hooks and deep, thrilling ambiances. A really convincing and thorough work that brings them to the top of the scene. Excellent work! Rating: 8/9
So sehr sich manche Teile der amerikanischen Bevölkerung in vielen Dingen auch als Vorreiter und Heilsbringer sehen mögen, so lassen sich natürlich auch Felder aufzeigen, in denen die USA als rückschrittlich zu bezeichnen sind. Ein kleiner Beleg hierfür mag darin gesehen werden, dass bislang die Veröffentlichung jeglicher Alben einer solch elitären Band wie LUX INTERNA dort unterblieben ist. Da wird es natürlich Zeit, hieran etwas zu ändern! In Zusammenarbeit mit dem Projekt Label treten Joshua und Kathryn Gentzke samt Begleitmusiker daher an, mit „A lantern carried in blood and skin“ auch den Amis endlich ihre beeindruckende Tonkunst näher zu bringen.
Dies geschieht zunächst „nur“ in Form einer Retrospektive, die Lieder ihrer bisherigen musikalischen Reise bereit hält und das Augenmerk insbesondere auf die letzten beiden Alben legt. Mit „Into nothing“, „Fallen“, „Your lily white hands“ und „Blossoms“ präsentiert die Band die noch aktuelle Langrille „God is not dead for the birds“ von ihrer stärksten Seite: Eingängige und teils episch-erhabene Folksongs mit spirituellem Unterton, leidenschaftlich und edel vollendet. Ein gleich bleibend hohes Niveau weisen auch die ebenfalls vier Stücke des Vorgängers „Ignis mutat res“ auf, darunter das treibende „Horizon“ sowie das schwermütige und zugleich zerbrechliche „Distance“. Mit lediglich zwei Songs, die im Reifegrad noch leicht zurückstehen, wurde hingegen das Full-Length-Debüt „Absence and Plenum“ bedacht.
Eine schöne Compilation, auf der es für Hörer aus hiesigen Gefilden zwar kein neues Material zu entdecken gibt, die dafür aber ein weiteres Mal die Authentizität und den hohen Stellenwert von LUX INTERNA im modernen (Dark)Folk unter Beweis stellt. Außerdem natürlich die beste Gelegenheit für noch Unbedarfte, sich mit der musikalischen Vision von LUX INTERNA vertraut zu machen.