Chicago's female trio Spires That in the Sunset Rise
(multi-instrumentalists Kathleen Baird, Taralie Peterson and
debuted with the amateur lo-fi noise-folkish tunes of
Spires That In The Sunset Rise (Graveface, 2004).
They became a quartet with the addition of Tracy Peterson
(who had just released
The Artist Revealed is Tarlie Dawn under the moniker Tar Pet)
Four Winds The Walker (Secret Eye, 2005), devoted
mostly to fiddle-based psychedelic folk music, contains too much filler.
Too often anemic pieces like Ong Song and Serum
become an excuse for sheer lack of inspiration.
The shamanic invocation Four Winds opens the album in a promising
vein, but very few songs live up to it:
the funereal litany Sort Sands, the
tinkling Wide Awake,
the relaxing country-tinged pastoral music for hippies No Matter,
but the one truly surreal combination of vocals and instruments is
Most of the rest is disposable.
By comparison, the festive eight-minute hare-krishna dance
This Aint For Mama sounds positively refreshing, despite its lengthy
coda of quasi-silence.
The more conventional This Is Fire (Secret Eye, 2006) at least
focused on structure is not on originality.
Curse The Traced Bird (Secret Eye, 2008) contains only seven longer
Black Earth is a rather tedious theatrial piece, but the
nine-minute Party Favors successfully weds desolate Japanese-style
theatre and dejected plucked strings.
All the songs employ fewer instruments and, surprisingly, this feature
actually lends more unity and coherence. It is almost a transition from
childish psychedelia to adult chamber music.
Nonetheless, the hyper-dilated psychedelic excesses of Underscore
and the utterly surreal provocation of Red Fall hark back to the
loose demented format of previous albums.
Ancient Patience Wills It Again (Hairy Spider Legs, 2012) completed
the transition towards lenghty compositions (not just casually improvised jams)
featuring a grave tone, an actual melody
and much more restrained arrangements.
The eight-minute Veiled Undertow is basically an energetic chamber
lied for harmonium, fiddle, psaltery and banjo (none of which rises above
a subdued murmur).
The eight-minute Grandma is a levitating minimalist sonata disturbed
by glitchy noises and angelic female wails.
Baroque cello lines duet with a country fiddle in Child Of The Snow.
The ten-minute November gets even too brainy and philosophical,
bordering on prog-rock and dissonant classical music.
The closer Well Tempered is a simply hymn with county-fair harmonium.
Ancient Patience Wills It Again Part 2 (Hairy Spider Legs, 2012)
the austere nine-minute meditation Before Dawn,
driven by a lugubrious harmonium drone with rare, occasional mbira and fiddle noises, an evocation of vast empty spaces,
a soothing Winter Song, more reminiscent of Renaissance song than of
and the whispered nine-minute Revella to the previous album's project.
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