Once A Barge – Conditio Humana

A promising German project, which is active in the neo-folk field. This is the second album of Once a Barge, after “The Withered Leaves”, which came out on the Portuguese Reaping Horde label. “Conditio Humana” is released on the band’s own label Holzrûna, in an edition of 300 copies. The cd comes in a black ring binder, with silver-coloured letters on it.

The music is a mixture of neo-folk, cold 80’s wave and neo-classical influences. Synthesizers, guitars, drum machine and an intimate male voice are the main ingredients. Most songs are rather minimal, but subtle and effective. Perhaps it can be compared a little to Belborn. In general the album has a melancholic and romantic atmosphere. The strongest track in my opinion is ‘Keepers of fire’, reminding me strongly of In My Rosary, and through the repetive theme also somewhat of Ordo Equilibrio. Another highlight is ‘Leave of an angel” a nice neo-classical hymn, with some additional female chants. ‘Mahnmal’ is a nice symphonic instrumental, with military drumming and a haunting horn sound.

Especially the first half of “Conditio Humana” is very strong, with some good compositions. There is a good mixture between more bombastic pieces and more tranquil passages. Perhaps a few songs could use a little more variation. Also the vocals could be a bit powerful on a few tracks. But these are just minor criticisms, overall my impression is very positive. Many fine songs to listen to, a pleasant melancholic atmosphere and a nice mixture of influences.

artist: Once A Barge
label: Holzrûna
details: 9 tracks