Locust Starless & Bible Black (UK,2007)****
After an EP on Timbreland the band got a contract by Locust for a full release. I almost missed the album but a sell-out of one of the most interesting record stores luckily gave me a cheap copy (-being aware that this happened with the disappearance of the only big and serious shop in Ghent-). I couldn’t entirely grab the range of the album at first, but I realize their range of influence goes from late 60’s/Early 70s UK folkrock (Bert Jansch with Pentangle on “B b”) and rock (Led Zeppelin influence on “hermoine”) to more recent sounds, (White Willow, as a comparable female-vocalist-with-band sound, but of course without mellotron, on “Time is for leaving”), they are not really genre-limited, and present it as a real nu-folk sound. The more pastoral “Untitled Cantiga” with double guitars and theremin could have been inspired from more Canadian folk-psych. But also more Appalachian bluegrass’n blues on banjo, or one-hand-bluesrock on piano and guitars, or just rock guitar to it could be used to deliver its own inspirational touches, with multilayered changing facets. Where there are harmonious vocals on one track, elsewhere the great feminine vocalist (Hélène Gautier) leads. Also touches of theremin are used more often. You can also notice and see the importance of the acoustic guitar, already on the front cover. “Sirene” is just guitar and voice, but also elsewhere can be revealed the importance of the acoustic guitar (also “the birley tree” starts with acoustic guitar and voice mainly, then adds more modern sounding, softly stamped/strummed softrock rhythms emotions in some parts of the song). The influence in double bass, acoustic guitar, jazz drums and glockenspiel on “B b” clearly has a John Martyn mixed with Pentangle influence, but the group cleverly adds an extra new layer of inspiration with theremin, analogue keyboards and somewhat sweet female vocals, and then a touch of a jazzy trumpet arrangement. “Allsight” continues this built up mood smoothly. There might be more to say to notice but I think with these remarks you will be able to know where to place the group.
Except for Hélène Gautier on vocals, Peter Philipson played the guitars, chordophones and sang sometimes. Raz Ullah played the electronics, keys and drones. Paul Blakesey played the upright bass and sang along too. Brian Edwards played the drums and cards. Extra guests were Tom Chapman on guitar, harmonica, glockenspiel and Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe on vocals on one track, Luke Das Gupta on horns, Ros Hawley on C clarinet, Mike Bray on flute, and Kate Reynolds on bassoon.
PS. To take away confusion, their name was taken not from King Krimson’s record name but from the earlier, 1965 recording of Stan Tracey, which in his turn took a line from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood’.