Backworld – “Anthems from the Pleasure Park” (1999)

I once read in an interview somewhere that Backworld a.k.a. Joseph Budenholzer splits his musical history into two halves – one “Catholic”, one “Protestant”, even though I would have rather pleaded for something like “church critical” and “merely Christian”.

This album is the one that connects both halves. The (at times almost blasphemous) liturgy-bashing of previous records is slowly coming to an end, and Christianity is approached from a more personal, mystical angle. The music is still Euro-neofolk-meets-neoclassical, however, and shows no traces of the touchy-feely Garfunkelization that was to mark the next album.

In other words, this is a deeply spiritual neofolk record, my first Backworld album, the one that got me hooked in the first place, and still intrigues me most. The atmosphere is mysterious, dark, brooding, and dead serious. This is audible mysticism at its best. Allusions to German medieval mystics abound in the titles of instrumentals and the lyrics, and “Lake of Ice” consists of recited portions of William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell”. Even the strangest lyrics on the album have a chilling, numinous feel to them: The musically most haunting song is definitely “The Devil’s Plaything”, it sends chills down my spine in every respect. The song alone is worth owning the album.

Since the cover is relatively ugly, here is "The Treasures of Satan" by Jean Delville, details of which are also featured in the booklet.

Since the cover is relatively ugly, here is “The Treasures of Satan” by Jean Delville, details of which are also featured in the booklet.

In one sentence: My favorite neofolk CD – haunting, mystical, Blakean, and lyrically intriguing.

relaxed          _ X _ _ _ aggressive

introspective X _ _ _ _  outspoken

rough       _ _ X _ _ polished

juvenile  _ _ _ X _ mature

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