Fernwood — Arcadia
((Not on label) no#, 2015, CD/LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-03-07Fernwood is the duo of Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett, the latter better known as one of two guitarists (or is it three now?) from Djam Karet – but Fernwood is a very different animal, where the duo plays mostly acoustic stringed instruments made of wood from around the world (OK, the Mellotron is the exception – well, I guess they contain some wood), taking them out of the folk and traditional context that they would normally be played in, and applying the sounds to their own original pan-cultural compositions, which tend to take on a more cinematic approach. The sound is delicate and gentle in its approach, evoking bits of imagery to pique the listener’s imagination as one travels through this eleven track journey. No one instrument is dominant, other than possibly acoustic guitar, and that gives the material here plenty of variety. I could easily spend the rest of this review on Montgomery and Ellet’s instrument list, but I’ll limit it to some of my personal favorites: mandolin, Irish bouzouki, Greek bouzouki (yes, there is a difference, both in the structure of the instrument and the string tuning), dlectric mandola, tenor banjo, violin, dobro, upright bass, sitar, tenor ukulele, ruan, tanpura, harmonium, surmandal, bells, chimes and much more. There are no drums, per se, so the unique characters of the various stringed instruments stand out strong, providing their own rhythms, and don’t get buried in a mix of other sounds. The duo overdubs on most of the cuts, but the album was wisely recorded without any compression or sonic manipulation so the true dynamics of every sound in the mix can be heard clearly. A wonderful and exotic musical journey that needs to be heard.
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more