Fern Knight – Music for Witches and Alchemists (CD)

The vocals that are first heard during “Song For Ireland” are of a type that most individuals are not familiar with. There are two aspects to these vocals; first, that they act in an instrumental way most of the track, and they hearken back to a much earlier tradition in music. When I hear these vocals, I hear something that is akin to the medieval type of music that is typically played on period TV shows and movies. While one can generally classify this music at the extreme fringe of indie music, there are lots of comparison to gothic acts like Switchblade Symphony and more ambient gothic acts like Black Tape For A Blue Girl.

While this sound continues in part during “Awake, Angel Snake”, the inclusion of a saucy Santana-like guitar line gives the track a much different feel than “Song For Ireland”. Of course, this sound is achieved even with the vocals staying in pretty much the same domain; the very intense sound of the vocals are given a counterpoint in the guitars on the track. However odd and non-conforming the tracks on “Music for Witches and Alchemists” may be, there is a pop sense to tracks like “W. Memphis”. In “W.Memphis”, the tempo if the Smashing Pumpkin’s seminal “Disarm” is united with the unique vocals and what seems to be a didgeridoo, which provides much needed bass-like sounds to the track. “Murder of Crows” moves from the more classical Irish sound of “Song For Ireland” and approach two different realms: that of a more Amelie-sounding style and if one listens close enough, a country style.

While the last few tracks on “Music for Witches and Alchemists” were more instrument-oriented, the complex vocal harmonies achieved during “Lintworme, Pt. 1” is a revolutionary moment. This means that Fern Knight revolves back to the style that was used to such success during the first few tracks of “Music for Witches and Alchemists.” The linkage between these two tracks makes the disc more cohesive (and I would argue, stronger as a result). Fern Kinght is an act that succeeds despite a unique and very odd approach to music. This is not the looking-backwards to folk music, nor is it sdome mash up of punk and electronic music. Fern Knight makes something completely new with their “Music for Witches and Alchemists”, something that stands so starkly from everything else in the market that one can only hope that droves pick up the album.

Top Tracks: Song For Ireland, Lintworme, Pt. 1

Rating: 6.9/10

Fern Knight – Music for Witches and Alchemists / 2006 VHF / 11 Tracks / http://www.fernknight.com / http://www.vhfrecords.com / Reviewed 10 March 2007

[JMcQ]

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