A bit of exploration this morning. It was a big disappointment recently, having enjoyed the “sound” of groups like Darkwood, to learn that the European neo-folk scene is rotten with bizarre nativism and crypto-fascists. ROME, from Luxembourg has built a reputation for being staunchly anti-fascist, though a couple articles I read suggest they’ve moved to a more middle-ground occupied by other right-wing and/or openly fascist neo-folk acts. That’s going to be disappointing if true, but let’s give the earlier music a shot first and figure the rest out later.
What drew me into the neo-folk sound (and you know I hate labels) was that it distanced itself from the hippie coffeehouse vibe of early American and European folk. The addition of darker, industrial sounds and themes brought a whole new vibe and you can see/hear/feel a direct progression from punk rock and industrial. Folk music, pre-rock and roll, was where a lot of the “revolution” and progressive ideology was born. It really only got louder with rock and punk and neo-folk is in some ways a return to the roots, but with an expanded artistic view that better reflects industrialization and urbanization, unlike early folk which took listeners out of the factories and cities and back into some flower-powered echo of Woody Guthrie’s America. So yes, the folk genre evolved, and for the better in my view. It’s just a damn shame that the scene in Europe is so perverted with backwards ideas.
So I’ll give Rome some time. This is only my first listen and so far so good. It is moving me.
And don’t get it twisted. This isn’t virtue signaling. It’s not about my fear of being seen as supporting fascists. I truly don’t want to give them the time of day if it’s not to go upside their heads with a bat. And don’t get that twisted! A path of non-violence would be preferable but there is a line in the sand that they’ve crossed over and over, so non-violence isn’t always a choice. And I’ve still got hands. I know I said this recently but it bears repeating. Fuck around and find out.
But how would one describe Rome’s music (from Nera, their first full length release in 2006)? How about Joy Division with later Pink Floyd played on traditional acoustic instruments over a bed of industrial ambient samples? Sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? It’s really not. It works. It’s also too good to leave alone after one album. When it takes that turn into the ambiguity that other acts frame their fascism in — and how to best describe that beyond that claim one hears from rightwingers and nativists — “we aren’t racist but we are proud of our roots and our origins and believe it to be the best” — or the Proud Boys claim, “We are Western Chauvinists.” — if and when it takes that turn, I’m out.
I’ve said more about the politics than the music this morning. It’s okay. I usually just talk more about my personal feelings than anything else, and how fucking boring is that? Yah, I’ve got lots of the “feels” today but it doesn’t matter. I’ll get over it. Just thought I’d check in with that.