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- Hymns and Ghosts by Lost Harbours
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Many of the albums I’ve reviewed today have sent me off into a trance, which makes it very hard to be productive but results in quite a pleasant day in the office nonetheless. This one here, coming from the peculiarly fertile musical landscape that is Southend-on-Sea, is no exception, with experimental folkies Lost Harbours combining sensuously drawn out vocal drones with gentle guitar tinkling and flute, piano, clarinet, and various other accoutrements for a gentle, balanced, graceful and unusual piece of progressive minimal folk songwriting.
The delivery is top-notch and basic enough to let the simplicity and purity of the songs shine through. It seems to be influenced in part by the pastoral minimalism of bands like Dakota Suite, but it operates in a more trad-folk spectrum, with vocals almost always being at the fore. The vocals are often delivered in such a drawn out way that they simply seem like another instrumental texture, though.
It kind of seems to hark back to all those “slow-core” bands like Empress and early Low, dragging out each note with a stoic patience and singularity of purpose that’s simultaneously sultry and cold, spiritual and tense. It’s emotional music which manages to steer clear of sentimentalism but is no less powerful for it. Calming, uplifting, complex experimental minimal folk which never veers on the wrong side of listenable. The last track’s got Bobbie from Comus on it too which is kind of cool. That one’s a kind of mystical slow jam with lots of drones and ethereal vocals (so it fits right in with the rest of them). Very graceful stuff.
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