Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pesanta Urfolk Briefs

Condolences, and Celebration

I recently mentioned that the strange mix of music that Pesanta Urfolk chooses to focus on--obscure metal, dark Americana, and neofolk--intrigues me a whole lot. So I thought I'd explore a whole lot more of what they have to offer.

As a side note, it seems the label head's mother recently died. I'd like to extend my condolences. She was quite young, which only makes it harder.

Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots: Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots (2004)
4 out of 5 stars

I previously expressed an interest in hearing Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots, and this reissue by Pesanta Urfolk provides an excellent opportunity. This blends 16 Horsepower's rock-influenced old-time Americana with Nick Cave's unhinged genre-bending narratives. There's plenty of strings, guitar, and enough banjo, plus female backing vocals. The folk and country are joined not just by their familiar gospel music ("The Leavening of the Spit-Bread Girls") but also by relatively modern, mid-century styles ("Of Silas Fauntleroy's Willingness . . .") Being genuinely different, engaging, varied, dark, light, and entertaining, it's one of those rare 78-minute albums that works.

Merkstave: Merkstave (2013)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Merkstave was a funeral doom band out of Oregon that only released two demos before dissolving. This release collects both of them. Their sound is sparse, with plaintive clean singing (that's driving me crazy trying to place who it sounds like). The recording is pretty bad, though, so it's tough to make out what they're doing on the few occasions when it's not so sparse, like the occasional fast part (that might be black metal-ish).

(This mix is way different. I can't find an embeddable copy of this mix.)

Leila Abdul-Rauf: Cold and Cloud (2013)
3 out of 5 stars

You might recognize the name Leila Abdul-Rauf from Hammers of Misfortune, Vastum, Amber Asylum, and elsewhere. Cold and Cloud is her solo debut, and it's definitely more for the Amber Asylum crowd than the HoM or Vastum fans. It's light, breathy neofolk and ambient music, which aren't really my thing, but I did get some enjoyment out of it. The ambient parts remind me of the music from the iOS game Osmos. I'm not sure exactly what instrumentation is used to make this stuff, but I do hear trumpet, piano, and ethereal female vocals among the mystery devices. If this is your kind of thing, I couldn't guess whether you'd like it or not.

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