Radio Quarantine -Darkwood – In The Fields (1999)

Going back a bit further in time with this 1999 release from DARKWOOD. The Leonard Cohen vibe is there from the start, it seems, but maybe a bit less so. There isn’t a lot of information readily available for a band/act that has been relatively prolific for twenty years. The top Google searches bring up a video game and a similarly named band from Serbia. Perhaps that’s intentional, because in their own words they are fiercely nationalist and nostalgic. If that doesn’t make you uncomfortable… particularly with Germans which may or may not be fair, but it makes me uneasy. Love of homeland and themes of war and remembrance… nuff said. It’s kind of creepy and there is no explanation of how that pertains to Germany’s still fairly recent past. But what do you expect from post-WW2 Dresden? How many generations will it be before those memories, if ever, are erased? Maybe this is Germany’s answer to country music and the Confederate flag? I don’t know. the music is interesting, and Americans shouldn’t be spending too much time moralizing.

In the words of Henryk Vogel, who is essentially Darkwood:

Darkwood considers itself as a project arisen from the idea to express our love we feel for the homeland we have been born into and we can identify with.
The music is a fusion of traditional themes and experimental soundscapes. Acoustic instruments are used as well as synthetic noises and samples completed by English and German vocals.

Several topics Darkwood deals with are to be considered from an analytic historical or psychological point of view. The influence of particular events or extreme situations on the psyche or fate of the individual is being described. Lyrics as well as persons dealt with serve the purpose of historical or psychological reflection. The past hangs above us like a bloody sword. We are overshadowed by the pain of war, hindered love for our homeland and forgotten beauty of tradition and nature.

So… is he saying that the themes are purely analytical and historical? These are bitter words, certainly. They make sense on the surface, maybe. You’re raised in the shadow of diabolical acts of violence in which your people, family perhaps, were undeniably the villains. Are you never allowed to move beyond the guilt and shame of previous generations? Does there come a point where you’re allowed to love your home or are you expected to carry their guilt? Flipping that narrative back into the American perspective, how many times have we heard people in discussions of slavery exclaim, “You can’t point fingers at me because I wasn’t even born then!”

The answer is probably going to be similar for Germany. It’s all going to depend on how far you as a person, and your people as a nation, have progressed as humans.

I don’t know. Nationalism and laments of previous wars make me uneasy. There is a very clear parallel between Nazi era Germany and United States history, and to some degree the present. No, I can’t love Darkwood while the questions are outstanding. They’re not even questions really so much as unresolved disappointment. I think I can close the scene here on this act. Shame, because the music itself is quite lovely outside of the obvious context.

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