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In 1990 a new label was born in France which would grow to release some of the greatest music in the various gothic, world and ethereal genres.  The basis behind the label is that of "Fairy World Music", much like the initial idea of "Heavenly Voices" from the old Hyperium label, this concept delves into several genres but focusing on those releases that you might imagine in an imaginary Fairy World.  With most of the music leaning towards a somewhat Gothic and Ethereal style, like the name would suggest (Prikosnovenie = Soft Touch), though the variety is certainly there in their catalog ranging from Celtic, Slavonic, Medieval and Gothic music to Rock, Trip-Hop and Electro.

The label has grown into various sub-labels for further categorizing and marketing their music, although they don't distinctly market the music as such except what you might see listed as the label on a purchased album.  The roster on this label is very impressive of which many have been on Gothic Paradise for quite some time.  Some of the great artists include Irfan, Caprice, GOR, Jack or Jive and Louisa John-Krol just to name a few of the recognizable names.  Their catalog is growing each year as they continue to add new artists and new really great releases.  I'm sure we'll see much more from this label in the future here on Gothic Paradise.

Be sure to check out their catalog and pick up some of their latest albums.  The compilations are a great way to get acquainted with what's available from this label.

La Nuit des Fees - DVD - Review

This beautifully packaged DVD comes to us from the fairywold masters Prikosnovenie themselves. img It's presented in a beautiful digipack DVD case that opens up revealing the titles and contents of each chapter along with photos of the three different groups that appear on the DVD. These include Daemonia Nymphe, the main protagonists of the DVD along with special guests Corde Oblique and Djaima. It is all put together so you can view any single performance, or view the entire show with clips of the festivities before the concerts.

I have to really commend those who came up with the concept and layout not only of the physical packaging, but also the mixing and format of the DVD. So often with live performances the sound is diminished drastically, but the mastering of this concert and festival is excellent. I really enjoyed watching it from start to finish, enabling the viewer to be placed right in the midst of the festivities, showing the various performers and artists vending their wares and goodies, also showing their various talents in other ways besides just the musical performances at night.

Of course the main content of the DVD includes the live performances of these groups. Djaima has the shortest performance and comes at the end of the DVD with two live tracks. These are two fun tracks showcasing her talented vocals and violin abilities. Corde Oblique also give a short performance featuring six pieces that fit perfectly with the overall mood and content of the "night of the fairies". Daemonia Nymphe are the main performers and feature eleven of their popular tracks from their past releases. The live performance captured on this DVD of this band as well as the others is excellent. They not only give a great performance, but the sound and video capture the mood and magical atmosphere very well. Without being there myself I have nothing to compare with except possibly other live performances that I've seen that are similar in mood. With that to compare to, the quality makes it as if the viewer is sitting there live enjoying the show and festivities.

Along with the live performances and festival clips the highlight for me is the video clip of one of my favorite tracks from this dynamic group "The Divine Goddess of Fertility". Once again the music is excellent and the video they made matches well and is a great production. It would have been nice to have a few more clips like these, as much as I enjoy a live performance, the creativity included in these video clips are so enjoyable. Overall another masterpiece from these experts on the fairyworld and their related artists. It's released in limited numbers, so hurry and pick it up direct from the label!

Rating: 4/5

Fairy World 5 - Review

Keeping up with their series of great samplers, this is the fifth installment in the series and features many of the latest great tracks from their latest album releases. This album comes in two formats, one with just the audio CD which I have and will review here, the other includes a DVD with a film of "La Nuit des fees" in 2008 which is a festival with many label artists, as well as some videoclips and other goodies. Both come with a beautiful 8 page booklet with information about the music and artists. This is another great collectors item to add to any music collection

The music on this album once again captures a great cross-section of the label's releases. However, one thing I noticed with this CD and with many of the latest releases is that the focus is heavily on world music, though the solid anchor in the various medieval and ethereal soundscapes are still there. The album starts off with "Sage" from Caprice which is an instrumental piece and a great introduction that segues perfectly into the soft and lilting "Me and Rose" from Maple Bee. As the album moves on we get a little more of a world music taste with Valravn and Corde Oblique and so on.

It's hard to pick out favorites on this album, everything comes together so well and it's a great selection of artists. Fans and listeners of our ethereal radio show will know doubt be able to pick out tracks that have been on rotation from Stellamara, Irfan, Maple Bee and the hauntingly beautiful piano music of Luigi Rubino. These all stand out slightly as favorites, though the entire album is captivating and a true masterpiece within these genres.

Once again the label has shown how they're able to scour the world for outstanding talent in the world of fairies and bring to us some of the best music in this arena. This is yet another great compilation that fans should really enjoy.

Rating: 4/5

Effleurement - Review

This is a very special release from Prikosnovenie marking their 100th release since the label's formation in 1990. The label has gone all out on this release to celebrate by issuing it as a special box set containing 17 excellent tracks and a little card game.  The game and release is based on the question "Which muse will inspire you today?"  For me, just about every muse on this CD is inspiring with the music they bring.  The variety and breadth of the music is excellent with a worldwide representation of artists from the USA, France, Russia, Japan, Australia and a myriad of other countries.  Though the geographical locations are spread out all over, the musical cohesiveness is amazing through the diverse talents of these artists.

As the album was released in December, it's only appropriate that there are a few seasonal selections on the album including "Wintersong" by Zaria and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by the popular muse Loreena McKennitt.  There are other selections that seem to have that seasonal feeling as well, but the titles don't make it readily apparent and as there is such a variety of languages, unless you understand the actual lyrics, it's hard to tell.  The bottom line is that nearly every selection is beautiful, inspiring and great to listen to no matter the season or occasion.

The album kicks off with the angelic voice of Maple Bee in a simplistic piece "Hello Eve" with some experimental sounds backing her excellent vocals.  This just sets the stage for the entire album as we drift through haunting melodies, beautifully orchestrated pieces and various languages for a worldwide appeal.  The universal language of music speaks to the heart in pieces like "Le vent m'emporte" by Cecile Corbel.  The addition of harp on this piece mixed with light percussion provide a sweet background for her beautiful voice.  This among others have quickly become favorite pieces with their sweet, mesmerizing elements.

Pieces that really stand out are from groups and vocalists that are no strangers to the "Heavenly Voices" music scene.  While Zaria is a new name to me, her beautiful ethereal folk style shines through on her presentation of "Winter Song" that is absolutely captivating.  Names like Caprice with Moon Far Away and Love Sessions 2 are easily recognized from this label with their excellent music.  A really big name included on this compilation is Loreena McKennitt with her middle-eastern influenced piece "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", that fans will really enjoy.  Irfan, Louisa John-Krol and Daemonia Nymphe all contribute with excellent pieces as you would expect from each of them.  These artists have quickly become favorites of mine and I was extremely pleased to hear them on this disc.

It's extremely hard to pick out any favorites from this disc as they are all so well presented.  The previously mentioned groups all stand out as stellar works, but in the end I seem to always give in to the haunting works from Jack or Jive.  Once again they pull it off with a new unreleased track titled "The Power of Wisdom" with haunting backing tracks and the always beautiful vocals of Chako, simply beautiful, putting this song on repeat is highly recommended.

Once again this label has put together another excellent sampler compilation.  Of course it's all about the music, but the fun box set is an added bonus for collectors to enjoy.  Don't miss this album!

Rating: 4.5/5

Fairy World II - Review

Once again we're presented with another stunning compilation from this label which is also presented as an excellent sampler of the releases and artists available.  Like the first sampler, this one contains the large cross-reference of genres and artists with a collection of recent and upcoming releases as well as a number of exclusive tracks. Also like the first album it is plainly evident that the label takes great care and puts in a lot of hard work to make sure that the music presented falls well within the style and overall theme of "Fairy World Music" and Prikosnovenie.  The disc is packed with music with seventeen tracks and a playing time of 75 minutes.

From the very beginning the listener is captivated by Pinknruby with their dreamy piece "Broceliande". Melding guitars along with other instruments and dreamy vocals this piece sets the mood for the rest of the collection. It's amazing how well everything fits together on this disc considering it's from such a broad range of international bands. The way this dreamy track gives way to the dream-pop elements of "Alias" by Anassane or how the moods build, flow, give way to ambient and spiritual moods to finally end on a somewhat electro and experimental note with Caprice providing two tracks to the album. Each piece flows almost seamlessly through the dreamy and enchanting elements of this "Fairy World" music. I don't know if the label conscientiously ordered and arranged the pieces in such a way to accomplish this, but regardless, it seems to be the case and makes listening to the album in it's entirety more enjoyable.

Once again on a compilation it's reasonable that there will be favorites and others that maybe don't really capture the listener's heart depending on personal tastes. I'm sure there are as many lists of favorites from this disc as there are listeners, but there are many that stand out to me and probably represent something of the gothic / ethereal preferences. These include the already mentioned introductory tracks by Pinknruby and Anassane. Along the same dream-pop styles are Fleur and Misstrip, both bringing out their heavenly vocals and hypnotic musical styles - although Misstrip does delve into some dark experimental elements on "Lilly White" which appears on this disc. Collection D'Arnell Andrea are well known among the goth/ethereal scene contributing many tracks to various compilations and an impressive discography. They are once again a prominent force on this album with their moving piece "Wild Trees" which has some great percussion and a dreamweb of ethereal and shoegazer instruments.

The new project Ghostfish, which is a collaboration between Louisa John-Krol and Daemonia Nymphe is anything but surprising considering the two artists' individual works, and also not-surprisingly a quick favorite from this disc. They weave such a captivating web of dreamy music that it's a perfect piece for this disc invoking images of a romantic dreamworld. Louisa John-Kroll is otherwise absent from this compilation with her solo work, but Daemonia Nymphe presents us with another great piece "Sirens of Ulysse" which again easily falls within the range of favorites from this collection.

I think there would be a huge void in representing the artists and catalogue of Prikosnovenie if Irfan and Jack or Jive were not present. Both appear, thankfully with masterpieces that won't soon be forgotten, Irfan with "Stella Splendens" and Jack or Jive collaborating with Shinkiro for another spellbinding, ambient piece "Cold mist" as only they can do.

There you have it, yet another superb work from this label and the talented musicians they work with! This certainly serves as an inspiration for finding more great music and although I'm very familiar with most of these artists, I'll definitely be following up with others and watching their progress with great interest.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fairy World Music No. 1 - Review

I always really enjoy compilations from these labels that release great music, because it gives me a chance to hear great new music or new remixes from new artists and others that I may not have been able to hear otherwise.  I also really like variety in my music tastes and compilations in many ways are able to provide that with a cross-section of interesting music.  I remember when the Hyperium label came out with their Heavenly Voices compilations, I was absolutely thrilled with the amount of great music released.  Many other labels have followed with many great samplers or compilations of a great cross-section of music. I think in some ways this first Fairy World Music release surpasses those with some great and memorable tracks.

As you can imagine or as you let your imagination carry you away into what you might think of as a "Fairy World", you can picture in your mind different scenes and what you might expect to be the soundtrack to such a dream.  The diversity in this compilation seems to catch this idea that this world doesn't fit nicely into a box and that only one type of music will be playing in the background.  Instead you have the dreamy vocals and catchy moods of Caprice with their inclusion "Galadriel's Song" which is soft, yet playful and fun.  Then you drift off through the myriad of soundscapes to the tribal track "Fes Mejdoub" by Phil Von & The Gnawa Musicians of Fes with the tribal rhythms and male chanting vocals.  This diversity and broad range speaks for itself as you drift from one mood and scene to the next.

Of course I have my favorites as I picture a certain dreamy world with fairies darting about in a soft and lush landscape.  Sometimes drifting into the romanticized medieval era to the imaginative fictional scenery that seems to only exist in our minds’ eye.  Louisa John-Krol captures this mood perfectly with "The Lily and the Rose", which is also one of my favorite's from her latest album.  And of course we can't forget Caprice that has already been mentioned, along with another favorite of mine Jack or Jive & Gor performing "Haqeldama" and Gor also doing an unreleased track "Yahil".  Each of these bring their talents and lush soundscapes to this imaginitive world that's so close and all around us in our minds and stories that are so popular.

I just can't stress enough the awesome diversity and collection of music this compilation brings.  Fans of the Heavenly Voices compilations shouldn't hesitate one minute in running out and picking up this album.

Rating: 4.5/5

Website: www.prikosnovenie.com

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