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Crumbling Ghost: II

Album Review

There’s compelling doom at the heart of English folk...

Prog heads in search of fresh and fertile soil may have encountered the doom-folk of acts like Agalloch and Chelsea Wolfe, but Crumbling Ghost are something else. Combining straight-faced folk-rock of a Fotheringay with detuned riffs akin to St Vitus, these Brits sound like Comus on fuzz-fuelled Quaalude.

This is a band who take a traditional revivalist hymn like The Good Old Way and fuse it to horror-movie drone to startling, irony-free effect. Intelligently they follow the early Fairport route and work with traditional ballads and hymns, though there are several body-trembling instrumentals. 

La Rotta is particularly fine, combining Donny Hopkins’ sinewy guitar with a terrific Earth-style drone. Covering Reynardine was a risk, but Katie Harnett’s vocals – part Judy Dyble, part June Tabor – help to rework this hoary beast as doom monster. As if to prove they’re musicians utterly at home in folk, they’re unafraid to close the album with a version of All Things Are Quite Silent based on Shirley Collins’ delicate 1967 arrangement. 

Sensitive, yes, but this album is also a brilliant exploration of the menace lurking at the heart of the English Pastoral. Forget Wicker Man folk, say hello to pitchfork prog.

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