[Reviewed by stark]
Sunset Wings is a neofolk group founded in 2006. From the beginning, they’ve been connected to the Poznan label Wrotycz Records, since they’ve released three out of their four albums with the help of Iwona and Szymon, the label’s owners. I’ll bet that “Lifetime As A Child At Play” isn’t the last result of this very fruitful cooperation.
But before we get a chance to find out about that, let’s take a look at the fourth full-length release by Sunset Wings. The musicians come from Kaliningrad, which is not particularly surprising given the label’s soft spot for Russian artists, especially those deriving from the Kaliningrad Oblast (see Kratong or the “Rose Of Memory, Rose Of Forgetfulness” compilation). Frankly, I’d be lying if I said that “Lifetime As A Child At Play” impressed me extraordinarily, not however due to the poor level of this material, but rather from the fact that at this stage of my life a little bit different musical emotions have an easier way straight to my heart. But I appreciate it; after all, there was a time when CDs by Neutral or Moon Far Away were regularly hosted in my player. The Russian variant of neofolk always seemed to me more lightweight, ethereal and airy than the often clumsier strumming produced by their Germanic counterparts. The case of Sunset Wings is no different: “Lifetime As A Child At Play” is a return to childhood, although not necessarily perceived through a 21st century prism (computer games, cellphones, etc). Just look at this extremely charming cover, the illustration as if taken from the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. Yes, the music breathes innocence belonging to a child unpolluted with the filth of the outside world. The world of grown-ups.
The Russians achieve the desired effect by quite simple means, but relative to neofolk quite a lot is happening here. In addition to acoustic guitar and vocals, both male and female, violin parts play a prominent role, sometimes even having exclusive airtime (“An Old Song”, “A Joyous Song”). They sing in English, Russian, Italian and German, the lyrics are their own as well as taken from other authors (including William Blake). The concept is prepared very carefully and it is difficult to find any defect here. Nostalgia lurks in every note, every word contained on the disc, where each song is like a lullaby nestling us to sleep at the beginning of our journey.
I would like to highlight one composition, ninth in order: “When The Voices Of Children”, which – perhaps by its characteristic manner of recitation assisted by children’s hubbub – reminds me of the Current 93 period of their fascination with little horses. Somehow this song has had the greatest impact on me. Although the whole album maintains a good level, it’s fun to play, and above all is honest. There isn’t a ounce of calculation or showing-off. As I wrote earlier, at this phase of my life I usually find aural elations elsewhere, but I honestly would not be surprised if thirty years from now I’d be listening to Sunset Wings with tears in my eyes. You can, however, try to read “Lifetime As A Child At Play” before that – you may be enchanted by it just about now.