If drone folk and avant-garde string players collide.
I came into this unique and unusual album expecting a relatively safe folk album. I was quickly corrected. Playing out like a cinematic folk ritual, Gabriella Smith and Gabriel Cabezas decided normal song structure doesn’t apply. This a folk album with a difference.
The key here is the interplay between acoustic guitar or uke instrumentation, Gabriella’s voice and a small collection of strings. Sometimes it’s a funky double bass (Lost Coast III). Elsewhere it’s a chopping climactic fiddle (Lost Coast II) or layers of vocal coos (Bard of a Wasteland). Instead of going for verses/chorus structures songs layer up to a tipping point and then evolve. It’s like they level up and when they do, the chaos and emotion increases. This results in crazed strings spiralling into expressive yarns and bursts or the vocals becoming more primal in their calls. Gabriella and Gabriel have no issues enjoying a full minute of freaking out. It’s all the better when they bring in percussive bells, pans, sticks and blocks to whack as well.
Central to the album is the trio of Lost Coast tracks. This acts as its own suite in the middle of the album. These 23 minutes are some of the most bombastic moments of the album. It will put off those looking for bedroom folk or gentile ethereal drones. To compensate ‘Rise’ is a beautiful vocal only collage that soothes and inspires with looped motifs. ‘Tarn’ is like being inside of a grandfather clock. The tuned percussion flicks and clicks in stereo around you whilst curious and tentative cello notes slyly slink around them. There is quiet on the album but it’s never still or calm.
Genuinely unique and a little crazy at times, this isn’t an album you can listen to lightly. It’s one of those albums that requires time and dedication to unlock. It took a few listens to click with me and now it does I really enjoy the crazy experimental nature of it. It’s not for everyone but it definitely is for us weirdos.
Recommended track: Lost Coast I
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