Written in Berlin and recorded in a farmhouse on the wild North Yorkshire moors The Wytchwood EP combines a sense of perceived detachment, propagated by its post-rock influences, within a pastoral and more intimate folk tradition.
The brooding, post-rock introduction of opener “The Wytchwood” is hauntingly evocative mix of synths and strings before being consumed by the more traditional instrumentation of the verse and chorus. The glacial ambience of “Comes Sad Light of Dawn” is a distant cousin of Radiohead’s “Exit Music for a Film” courtesy of the gently picked acoustic guitar and the synthesised choral vocal, yet the lyrics concentrate on the melancholic and all-consuming power of obsessive love rather than the stark dehumanising effect of technology on society. “When The War Began” is a simpler work, with Murphy’s double tracked vocal belying an approach to folk more in common with acts from the other side of the Atlantic. The gentle lullaby of “Listen to Me in Your Heart” closes the EP amongst low-key grandeur.
Blacklands revolves around Al Murphy, a musician and also a very successful commercial illustrator. But Blacklands is no vanity project. The autumnal hues of The Wytchwood EP are slowly intoxicating, gently enveloping the listener in its texture. Blacklands have many forbearers, most noticeably Tunng, Iron and Wine, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, yet they avoid being derivative and add to the always evolving, non-linear folk tradition by incorporating different elements and qualities within their work. There is a proliferation of acoustic troubadours currently vying for attention from the record buying public yet few acts handiwork will be as sophisticated and subtle as The Wytchwood EP.
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