‘The Book of the Lost’ - Emily Jones and The Rowan Amber Mill(February 14, 2014)
Vincent Price would love the opening of this album. ‘The Book of the Lost’ from Emily Jones and The Rowan Amber Mill is an alchemy of classic English horror films, touches of Dennis Wheatley, essences of M.R James and copious helpings of weird-edged, dark folk. For those that adore The Wicker Man, remain transfixed by the machinations of Duc de Richleau and Michael Horden’s mesmeric plaguing by ‘other forces’ in Whistle and I’ll Come to You, this is an enthralling, deliciously disturbing album.
For aficionados of antique dread, the opening theme ‘The Book of the Lost’ built around soaring synthesiser sounds sets a scene of fierce expectation. You know what’s coming and you can’t wait. No hiding behind the sofa. The desire to experience everything on offer is overwhelming. But wait ... this isn’t extracts from vintage scripts and books, it’s an homage played out re-imagining the genre and creating fictional films (to a level of detail that inspires admiration) and folding their narratives into this album.
The transition into the tapestry of ‘Marsh Thing’ through a classic “Back I command you!” phrase (pure Duc de Richleau) is superb. Repeating the format there’s another dire warning to “take up arms” before the mysterious and unsettling soundscape of unearthly notes and ominous lyrics of ‘The Villagers’ evokes the hysteria of the English Civil Wars and the madness of Witchfinder General. Still with me? The next warning harks to the bizarre hip-horror genre expounded by such films as Psychomania before we’re treated to the ethereal and wavering ‘Necklace of Shells’, which through more ominous spoken observances, morphs into the dark forewarning of ‘Middlewitch Lake’.
Mystical music, languid lyrics and a deep-seated love of a genre has inspired the creation of ‘The Book of the Lost’. A definite Marmite-moment - love it or hate it. Not for everyone, and evoking echoes that some would rather forget, while others will await their return with avid anticipation.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll