Kinda interesting what this gorgeously seductive female duo is doing: releasing as a first disc a collection of A sides, B sides, and an EP before any formal release whatsoever. Did I say "gorgeously seductive"? Actually, I haven't a clue what they look like—so quit letching, smecking, and drooling, gents—it's the music I'm referring to, a concoction of 4AD sieved through Renaissance, Mary Fahl, and Poe's Ligeia.
Smoke Fairies is an apt sobriquet, as there's a plenitude of wispy edges, tendrilling fog, smoky backgrounds, and dark moonlit evenings pervasive in every corner of this release (I have the crit's CD version but the actual product is a vinyl 10-inch, and thank God some artists are as in love with that medium as I am!). No clue who composes the backing band but they're definitely also 4AD quality: strings, bass, guitar, funeral percussion. For such threnodic moody music, there's a strange élan, however, something to awaken the vampire in everyone.
However, the center of the sonic swampy miasma is the vocal pairing of Katherine and Jessica, a melancholy dirge bond of sad beauty and exulting dreariness. They're as solid and compelling as the Cocteau Twins, Shelleyan Orphan, and similar Gothy ventures, so much so that, once returned to the UK from a States and Canada tour, Bryan Ferry put the band on his tour as the opening attraction. Makes perfect sense, as Smoke Ferries (!—nomenclatural coincidence!) have the Avalon sound down…from Forest Lawn rather than Utopia.
If this is the pair's testing of the market, these ladies can rest assured it's already conquered. Ghosts is marvelous stuff, running over with dark delights: lightly psychedelic, madrigalianly progressive, and existentially mysterious. My favorite cut? We Had Lost Our Minds, a mellowly eccentric tune with shifting tones and repressed melodies topped by a great title that coincidentally pretty much encapsulates the entire society of the States.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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