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Immaterial Possession — Mercy of the Crane Folk
(Bandcamp no#, 2023, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-06-09

Mercy of the Crane Folk Cover art

Immaterial Possession is a band based in Athens, Georgia, and their name can be added to the long roster of interesting outfits from that town. I suppose it would be clever to try to come up with an Athens-centric description for their music — R.E.M. crossed with The B-52’s, anyone? — but that would do a disservice to their originality. Immaterial Possession is certainly in the realm of modern psychedelic music, and it would be no stretch to say they would fit in with the Fruits de Mer roster, but they have a sound of their own which takes old-school acid folk and twists it into something a little reminiscent of Dengue Fever or The Cambodian Space Project (though not explicitly Southeast Asian). Take a base of jangly late-60s psych, throw in an occasional surf guitar, eerie organ licks, wobbly Mellotron, a female voice that blends folk music with Middle Eastern melodies, and make it all groove with tasty percussion and a strutting bass — and you have something like Immaterial Possession. Other than the obvious conclusion that the female singer is Madeline Polites, the rest of the credits are a bit vague; the other founding member is Cooper Holmes, and John Spiegel seems to play drums on most tracks, while Kiran Fernandes is credited with keyboards, clarinets, and flutes; another drummer, Jon Vogt, is listed for two tracks, but I don’t know if that means Spiegel is absent or if he’s playing something else. In any case, Mercy of the Crane Folk is one of my favorite albums so far in 2023, and every one of the ten tracks is a solid winner, such that I can’t pick favorites. “Birth of Queen Croaker” is the strangest of the set, where Polites indulges in weird frog-like vocalizations, but even here, the band’s melodic sensibilities make the tune more quirky than abrasive. Several tracks feature wordless vocal lines soaring into the higher registers, drawing comparisons to Yma Sumac, though Polites is not so wild. I would encourage anyone who likes well-written music in the psychedelic area to investigate Immaterial Possession.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Immaterial Possession

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