‘Naomi Randall with Tom Gaskell’ - blending tradition, myth and history with otherworldly folklore(July 02, 2014)
Those absorbed with peaceful questing and imagined explorations, pastoral psych-folk overlaid with lashings of fey meandering or pathways leading towards ethereal faery-worlds will absolutely love this. Those of us who absorbed the mystical melodies and half-understood archaic narratives laid down through late 60’s prog-folk and acid-folk will immediately feel at home too.
The self-titled album ‘Naomi Randall with Tom Gaskell’ takes in almost all the above and more, choosing its influences from paths less-travelled by blending tradition, myth and history with an intense investigation into otherworldly folklore and legend.
Throughout, Naomi Randall’s evocative voice embroiders a fantastical pallet of sounds and images blending acoustic with electric, ancient with modern to illustrate this collection. The album’s opening track ‘La Pernette’ with its glittering web of instruments, offers an English version of a French chanson de toile that dates back to the 12th century, from there it moves to a haunting take on the late medieval ‘Nottamun Town’ delivering its ‘world turned upside down’ overtones across another synthesis of sound. There’s an instant appeal to the string-driven spaces infused within ‘The Granta’ complete with rippling water effects (especially for those that recall quiet evenings in Grantchester meadows).
The doleful ‘Lord Gregory’ follows, given a more than usual disturbing edge with whispered vocals, echoing bowed cymbal and synth, while electronic tanpura and sitar imparts equal foreboding to ‘Bonny Bunch Of Roses’. The album offers a couple of short unassuming but gently appealing acoustic tunes - ‘Nick’s Song’ and‘Fox’s Sunday Best’ and ends by invoking a burst of musical colour and emotion through ‘St John’s Raga’.
The musicians are Naomi Randall (vocals, acoustic guitars, harp, psaltry, shruti box, percussion) Tom Gaskell (bass guitar, mellotron, piano, glockenspiel, electric guitars, synthesiser, chimes, bowed cymbal, electronic tanpura, sitar, backing vocals) Tom Fielder (resonator guitar, dobro guitar) Nick Randall (acoustic guitar) SD Wheeler (acoustic guitar) Paul Green (acoustic and electric guitar).
Possibly not an album for everyone, but those that venture along the path will be rewarded.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll