11 Songs, 48 Minutes

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

MDiamond ,

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

It’s not that often in the new age music genre that I get a live concert album to review. However in the words of a founding member Jordan Buetow: “Erwilian originally began in 2000 as a performance group with a passion for bringing audiences seasonal music that was not always given the attention it deserved.” Erwilian is an all-acoustic group (and proudly so). In general, their instrumentation includes guitars, drums, recorders, hammered dulcimers, mandolin, marimba, and a vintage celesta, as well as some exotic ones like mandola and bouzouki. All of the group members are multi-instrumental musicians and it is not unusual to see them playing a variety of instruments over the course of a performance.

Erwilian wastes no time getting into the holiday spirit with a lively, festive, Celtic-tinged opening track called “In Convivio.” The title track, “Midwinter’s Night,” is a version of a song by Blackmore’s Night that also projects a bit of Celtic flair with a lovely loping rhythm and a sweet pastoral ambience. A decidedly different ethnic influence is heard on a track called “Villancicos,” which as the title clues us into, has more of a south of the border feel. Parts of this tune are quite sprightly and it drew my attention to how incredibly tight Erwilian is as an ensemble to hang together like they do through those up-tempo changes – very impressive. A number of the songs, such as “Wandering” are actually medleys and segue into excerpts of other tunes – in this case: “I Wonder As I Wander” and “Wayfaring Stranger.”

Judging by the enthusiastic applause on the recording, there is no doubt that Erwilian has the power to thoroughly engage an audience. Their musicianship is absolutely first-rate. Each member is a virtuoso, but more than their individual talents is the level of interplay between them that is absolutely magical. They are like a well-oiled machine that moves with “apparent” ease through complex changes and seamless transitions. Also, being a live album, I was amazed and appreciative of the outstanding sound quality of the recording. It is beautifully mixed and I was aware of how different instruments appeared out of each speaker, enhancing a feeling of being there for the listener. According to Jordan Buetow: “an album – a live album for that matter – of this material truly was like a distilled manifestation of the very soul of the band.”