SOGP Revs Up Freak Folk
- Words: Tomas Palermo
Hazy, sun-drenched and ethereal; enigmatic English folk group Songs of Green Pheasant’s 2005 debut, Aerial Days (FatCat), was instantly dubbed an outsider music classic. The album saw Sheffield’s Duncan Sumpner’s delicate vocals drift through quietly strummed acoustic guitars bathed in wet echoes. The evocative work helped solidify the emerging freak folk movement of Devendra Banhart, Palace, Múm, and others. As intricate as Simon & Garfunkel and challenging as Spacemen 3, Songs of Green Pheasant wrote a new chapter in psychedelic music.
Fast forward to 2007, and SOGP takes a new turn, this time towards more dense and complex sonic arrangements, including bass, drum, and additional backing vocals. Comparisons to seminal British acts, from Slowdive on the heavy end, to Sarah Records act St. Christopher on the gentler side, are appropriate. Add to SOGP’s new milieu the hushed tones of Red House Painters and Hope Sandoval’s forlorn lyrical style, and you get the picture.
Gyllyng Street (out September 18) is a sauntering ode to Sumpner’s life in a (literally and figuratively) shady district of Cornwall, UK. Each song floats in an opiate fog, grasping at life’s small moments with anxious fingers. Highlight “Alex Drifting Alone” rises and falls gracefully, with trumpet flourishes and swirling vocals similar to Low’s best slowcore ballads.
The intimate lo-fi production aesthetic of Aeriel Days remains intact, but Gyllng Street’s songcraft is far more mature. If you’ve been meaning to tune and drop out, grab a flower, your acoustic guitar and this album.
2. King Friday
3. The Ballad of Century Paul
4. West Coast Profiling
5. Alex Drifting Alone
6. Fires of P.G.R.
7. A Sketch for Maenporth
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