[Reviewed by: Damiano Lanzi]
Polish project Ludola is a rare case in the neofolk scene, where many bands rely on themes and aesthetics borrowed from the Germanic era, the dark period of European totalitarian regimes and the Second World War. Ludola’s work instead rotates around the celebration of Polish history, and most of all around the violent events that marked the complicated vicissitudes of this country, often disputed by foreign powers. In the album booklet, and even on the acoustic guitar used by the band, appears the series of numbers 1768, 1794, 1830, 1863, 1944, 1956, the dates of the insurrections and strikes that characterized the past of the Polish nation (the tensions that led to the Bar Confederation, the Kościuszko Uprising, the November Uprising, the January Uprising, the Warsaw Uprising, the Poznań Strike). The series ends with an ominous 20??, showing that the belligerent spirit of the author is still alive.
In fact the musical style of the album is mostly acoustic, yet bellicose and aggressive: the guitar strumming is dry and energetic, the bass sound is sometimes surprisingly harsh and Janek’s voice is deep and powerful. The lyrics often express the point of view of the soldier who knows that he’s fighting for a difficult and dangerous cause, against predominating forces, but the leitmotiv is the sense of duty, the self-abnegation for the motherland’s sake. Even if aggressive, it’s not a warmonger’s point of view such as we find in some other neofolk or industrial acts: there is a constant will for freedom and for a pacific future that can be read between the lines. In this sense, the parts sung by Zośka are very interesting. She represents the hope of coming back home after the hostilities, and the wish for a serene future, as it happens in “Wrócisz do Mnie” or in the duet “Krakus i Dziewczyna”, a dialogue between a soldier leaving for the battlefield and his girlfriend worried for his life. Some songs are borrowed from folk culture, as the opening track “Polonez Partyzancki”, a traditional Polish dance, or “Dalej Bracia, Do Bułata” and “Krakus i Dziewczyna” dating from the November Uprising of 1830. Another song, “Wiekowi XXI” features lyrics by the XIX century revolutionary poet Adam Asnyk.
“Rogate Czapki, Rogate Serca” generally shows an original approach to neofolk music. It recovers a kind of tradition, melodies and harmonies that are not customary in this genre, and it does so with an energy that makes it an enjoyable listen.