The Ministry of Wolves: Music From Republik Der Wolfe – album review

The Ministry of Wolves – Music From Republik Der Woelfe (Mute)


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Musicians from the Bad Seeds, Crime and the City Solution and Einsturzende Neubauten come together to give us a reworking of the tales of the Brothers Grimm, Louder Than War’s Adrian Bloxham has been listening, read what he thought below.

Fairy tales are for children, at least that’s what we say when we are old. But the stories of gold and blood, fear and hope and monsters in the woods written down by the Brothers Grimm are as powerful when read as an adult as when read to you as a child.

These stories were told in the dark and passed down through generations until the Grimm Brothers transcribed them. Powerful and romantic still, they have been made into both Disney tour de forces and dark horror films. Their magic has never diminished.

In 1971 the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Anne Sexton reworked the fairy tales, this is the where the play this music soundtrack has come from. The Ministry of Wolves are Alexander Hacke, Mick Harvey, Danielle de Picciotto and Paul Wallfisch. Their past glories include Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Crime and the City Solution and Einsturzende Neubauten. As you can imagine this is no bright and sunny retelling.


The music is changeable, you can well imagine the feel of the record given the collaborators and you wouldn’t be too far from the mark. The stories are told with different voices, a clear woman’s voice for ‘The Gold Key’ a drunken drawl for ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ and everything between. The voices change as the viewpoint of the stories narrators change. Some are gentle while they tell you the story, in ‘Cinderella’ the voice is quirky and childlike while ‘Iron Hans’ has a dark and evil croon.

The stories are given the respect and gravitas they deserve, fairy tales were a way to explain what people didn’t know, a way of making things make sense without logic and we still need them. This record is for when you wake up in the dark and are too scared to look across the room, for the moment you realise that you are lost in the woods and it’s nearly dark, for the second you realise that someone is behind you in the moonlight. It’s a wonderful sounding rich album that isn’t really like anything I have heard before and I will be listening to again and again.


The Ministry of Wolves page on the Mute website is here, they are also on Facebook.

All words by Adrian Bloxham. More work by Adrian on Louder Than War can be found here.

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