22/30 folk

kristine leschper – the opening, or closing of a door

This album has responded to my desperate calls for the flute to resume its role in folk music: track #1 is a gorgeous example of what this timid instrument can do for a mood. ‘TO,OCOAD’ sets itself apart with instrumental awe feeding directly into lyrics that suffuse delicate etchings with splendour and range. The record takes an […]

27/30 electronic experimental folk revisited review

the books – thought for food (2002)

The Books’ debut is an album of calculated restraint, gyrating with the numerous flows of one day in our culture. It is a singular record that represents the mundane wait for the kettle above more vivid, memorable experiences. The samples are unknowable, bar a Churchill speech, but sprout up between a gliding cello, a picky […]

24/30 folk psychedelic reissue

mashabe band – mandela

Mashabe Band made a habit of paying tribute to the inspiring figures who surrounded them. ‘Mandela’, named after the then-imprisoned Nelson, is a mesmeric trip through psychedelic strings and bellowed vocals typical of the kalindula music style. The genre itself was a groovy evolution of the Zamrock era which had given groups like WITCH such […]

27/30 album of the week folk rock

big thief – dragon new warm mountain i believe in you

On their most substantial project to date, Big Thief boomerang with experimentation, never once flying off. Every sound on this record is contained, but not repressed; expressed, not exhausted. Delicate, take-away philosophies condensate atop the music and it quickly becomes a deeply involving listen, asking politely to be heard and heard well. With eccentric, bruised […]

20/30 folk

the order of the 12 – the lore of the land

Richard Norris’ latest project is a haunting portrait of traditional folklore and psychedelic mystery. Impeccably produced, ‘The Lore of the Land’ cherry picks from its influences while generally honouring the luminous personalities of each performer. That said, the chords on ‘Money Can’t Buy’ are a little too close to Nick Drake’s ‘Day is Done’. Essentially […]

24/30 compilation experimental folk

OKI – tonkori in the moonlight (1996-2006)

OKI has never seen a traditional tonkori player: “they were all dead when I started”. Had musical distribution then been as sophisticated as it is today, the tonkori may never have flirted so perilously with extinction. Just as we are lucky to have found his music, the instrument was lucky to have found OKI’s fingers. […]

23/30 experimental folk jazz

alexandre simões – sound of sense

This underground project is equal parts prog rock, jazz, and poetry. With the shabbiness of honesty, ‘sound of sense’ welds the writing of Robert Frost and others to a band of jazz musicians playing straight down the line. Still, this record never feels like a hurried endeavour and is closer to the work of an […]

24/30 folk

jake xerxes fussell – good and green again

To construct ‘Good and Green Again,’ this superb North Carolina folklorist trawled through stories and songs of old, sewing the findings together with his laid-back voice at the seam. Fussell’s vocals pivot lightly off the story as well as the crisp acoustic arrangements behind him; he is an effective, cool narrator over a French horn […]