‘Weirdlore’ - from the good people at Folk Police Recordings(June 20, 2012)
Should you find something elementally attractive about ‘Weirdlore’ the latest release from the good people at Folk Police Recordings then it’s a fair bet that you are already a convert to weird folk. More than likely you empathise with its spiritual route that ambles broadly between pagan and pastoral, dark and strange; the type of folk that’s oft associated (slightly erroneously) with Wicca and The Wicker Man or that which extols faery, nature and mystery. It has produced some stunning material and also unfortunately a fair number of half-baked cakes. For many reasons it’s a branch of folk that some eschew but I am pleased to say, an increasing number fondly embrace.
As I wrote for FolkWords wrote back in 2007: “... there is a need in some circles to classify bands out of folk music ... usually because they don’t conform to someone’s arbitrary standard ... classification grew to include many bands, and indeed many variations on the psych and weird folk theme.” At the time there were but a few fine exponents of the weird folk style (whatever one perceived it to be) but a change was in the air.
Since then, artists such as Telling The Bees, Sproatly Smith, Rapunzel & Sedayne, Harp and A Monkey and Foxpockets (all previously reviewed here) plus Alasdair Roberts (oft-regarded as a grand councillor of weird folk), Emily Portman, Nancy Wallace and Corncrow have all gained rightful levels of recognition through their interpretation of what for the sake of brevity we’ll call ‘weird folk’.
The essential point is that Folk Police has gathered together these and other artists to create an outstanding compilation of weird folk. And for those of you new to its mysterious embrace, this is one of the best introductions you could choose. 'Telling The Bees' deliver Andy Letcher's fabulous ode to a return of the old ways 'Worship Of Trees'', Rapunzel & Sedayne offer up their inspired harmonies in 'The Innocent Hare', Sproatly Smith launch you into their soundscape with the faintly ominous 'Rosebuds In June', while Alasdair Roberts treats us to a Norse saga-inspired 'Haruspex Of Paradox'.
‘Weirdlore’ is available from Folk Police Recordings catalogue: FPR 008 and you also get well-written, comprehensive notes and information on the tracks.
In a relatively short time Folk Police Recordings has demonstrated a willingness to dive deeply into the wider folk pool instead of joining those content to merely paddle gingerly in the shallows. That enthusiasm means they have dredged up sparkling gems from the grimy depths and given voice to those lurking in misty shadows. Long may they continue down that road.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll