[Reviewed by stark]
A couple of days ago a Portuguese, Paulo Sousa, has been hired as our Polish national football teams head coach. So he now is the second most important person in Poland… or perhaps even the first, as our President is a spineless dumbass… Well anyway, if thanks to Paulo Sousa the Polish team will manage to perform in the upcoming European Championship, he has got a chance to become one of my favorite Portuguese people. The second favorite to be more specific. Because the first place is always reserved for Luis Couto, a weaver of dreams from the Iberian Peninsula.
I’ve given vent to my fascination with this project many times before in various places, therefore I won’t bother you with my attachment to The Joy Of Nature again. Let me just say that I’m simply happy that this new album is out, even though the music is far from happiness whatsoever. Five years have passed since “A Roda Do Tempo” the last brand new release (not counting the “revisiting”, the older stuff on two compilations from 2018) and this new opus, “Until Only The Mountain Remains” is out now thanks to a relatively new label from Italy, Dornwald Records.
I’m so glad that this recording is a somewhat return to those misty autumn soundscapes from The Joy Of Nature’s childhood. After the more folk-oriented journeys from the previous albums it seems as if history took a full circle for The Joy Of Nature. It may be less “ambient” than “The Fog The Life Is Haunted By”, it is based mostly on acoustic guitars and vocals, while the other instruments used are of a folk provenance (Farfisa, glockenspiel, mountain dulcimer), but the album has all that I initially loved the Portuguese project for. This is it, the music of misty mountains and empty late autumn beaches. Some fragments make me think of warm solitude, when you feel good and calm only in your own company: “The World Of Dew” for instance, while listening to this one I just want to lay down wrapped in a blanket and get rid of any mundane thoughts.
There’s also one very special song here, “The Girl With A Razor” – it is a refreshed version of a track from “Two Leaves Left” EP from 2014. I’m not sure if I’ve heard many songs of such a heartbreaking beauty during this decade. It’s a sort of intimate tragedy carved into four minutes of sound. What’s also interesting is that even when Luis tries a more electric, rock approach (“These Things Can Knock On The Heads Of Everyone” he constantly keeps that calm and dreamy atmosphere on his radar. While on other albums it may sound like a piece ripped from a different fairy tale, here it has its own time and space, and fits perfectly to the story being told.
This is blue-grey music, with occasional glimpses of light, probably only few will appreciate it as The Joy Of Nature has never been a pupil of the neofolk/ambient fans (perhaps too ambient to some, and too neofolk to others… I don’t know). But I respect Luis for working out his own, unique style which somehow corresponds with what I search for in music in general. If you don’t know The Joy Of Nature check this album and see for yourself that the Portuguese acoustic underground is not only Sangre De Muedrago (to be clear, I like them a lot too). Lovely album.