Browsing All posts tagged under »freak folk«

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

February 10, 2014

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This music is the brainchild of Michael Woodman, guitarist and vocalist in Thumpermonkey, written using the immersion composition techniques described in The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook. The method seems to work. I have no idea what method he employs when writing for Thumpermonkey, but that seems to work too, and for several reasons Eat Your Robot sound a lot like his other band. One reason is the lyrical style; another is the way the melodies are phrased; another is Woodman’s singing, which is highly distinctive; and equally important are his guitar playing and riff writing, which are a …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

December 14, 2013

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My first exposure to Olds Sleeper was startling, and he’s yet to disappoint me, across four albums of his own and one collaboration with the beguiling Heidi Harris (not to mention the cigar-box guitar stuff he puts out as Jellyspine Jenkins). Using lo-fi production as a device to emphasise the pure materiality of his music-making, Olds Sleeper’s songwriting achieves a form of sincerity that can’t be contrived or dissembled; he gives voice to a particular form of American street-level experience, in a musical language precisely cognate with its cultural dialects. His songs speak from the soul of the alienated, hard- …

Cutleri – We Sink Ships (avant-folk)

August 2, 2012

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I never know how much to consider the visual artwork when I’m discussing a release. On the one hand, I don’t want to do the artist a disservice by basing my description on anything extraneous to the music, but then the artwork does unavoidably affect how the listener hears the music, and the visual component is often a valuable creative accomplishment in its own right. Personally I enjoy the artwork attached to the music I listen to; even if it’s only digital, it still provides a handle that I can hang my memories of the sounds off. What I’m trying to get at when I write about music is its meaning, and in the case of music, ‘meaning’ can’t really refer to anything other than the experience of hearing it; what goes on neurologically when we hear music …

Plum Flower Embroidery – Naki Bone Jangle (psychedelic)

June 9, 2012

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I did a little bit of ‘research’ (a word that used to mean research, and now means believing the first thing you see on the internet), imagining that Naki Bone Jangle would turn out to refer to a ritual noise-maker made from bones by members of a native American tribe. Well, that may be the case, but I couldn’t find any reference to it. I could always have asked Richard Knutson to explain, but I think it’s worth trying to understand a recording as released; this one is enigmatic on many levels, and that is clearly a central plank of its meanings. Plum Flower Embroidery is a one man project, of the sort that I would almost certainly not have come across were it not for the way the internet has turned out…

Heidi Harris – All Fall Down (freak folk)

March 21, 2012

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The way this album is presented, you’d think it was a more or less random bundle of artistic detritus, a set of oddments that didn’t fit anywhere else, of interest mainly to hardcore fans and completists. ‘Collaborations, new recordings, song sketches and 2 videos’ is the promise made on the Bandcamp page. Why then does it sound so creatively coherent? Either Harris is being deliberately disingenuous (or perhaps just excessively diffident), or she works with such a degree of creative and aesthetic clarity that her every artistic gesture, however casual, bears her unmistakeable imprimatur. I would guess that the truth lies somewhere between the two …

Olds Sleeper – New Year’s Poem (avant-country/ noise-folk)

February 18, 2012

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This is a recording with a self-consciously ‘lo-fi’ sound, but there’s a whole sonic ideology wrapped up in an idea like ‘lo-fi’. What does it even mean? Low fidelity; and fidelity means truth. I would guess though, that it’s a primary concern of Olds Sleeper’s to get the truth quotient of his music right up there near the top of the dial. The whole duality of high- and low-fidelity has its roots in the early days of recording, a time when verisimilitude, a resemblance to actuality, was a technical challenge to be met, like pulling focus on a cine camera.

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

February 3, 2012

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A thin-sounding electric guitar (maybe a Telecaster), an electric piano, filtered through the glitchy sound of dusty vinyl, and looped in incomplete gestures that sound like a needle jumping. It’s the sound of nostalgia, the sound of distance from a desired space that the imagination is better equipped to apprehend than the senses. The uppercut combinations of the kick, when it enters, are located firmly in the here and now. That’s the heartbeat of the subject, the locus of the act of remembering. Such a simple psychodrama between so few musical elements seems a shaky scaffold to hang anything off, but when the female voice enters…