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Faun Fables - Light Of A Vaster Dark CD (album) cover

LIGHT OF A VASTER DARK

Faun Fables

 

Prog Folk

3.97 | 7 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars I can already tell I'm going to have to revisit this review sometime down the road after I've had more time to get to know it. Faun Fables were like that from the beginning for me, the 'beginning' being when I first discovered them through their 2004 breakthrough 'Family Album'. Even for a freak folk fan these guys are a bit odd.

As with the first couple of albums this one has hints of Comus influence at times, meaning dark, moody arrangements, often gutteral vocal phrasing, and sometimes raw lyrics. Dawn McCarthy edged away from sound that in favor of slightly more widely palatable songs in the mid-nineties, but this seems to be a return to earlier form for her.

As with the 2008 EP 'A Table Forgotten' and even 'Family Album', McCarthy's songs tend to center around home, family and relationships more than the band's other albums. But that's to say they're idyllic or introspective like "Pictures" and "With Words & Cake" were. "Housekeeper" for example belies its title with strident instrumentation, McCarthy's trademark (and eerily beautiful) throaty vocals, as well as alternating playful and slightly morbid violin courtesy of Meredith Yayanos, who also played on 'A Table Forgotten'.

And speaking of Yayanos, her presence (ala violin) is felt more here than on any prior Faun Fables release. For the most part the increased emphasis on strings is a positive one, as Yayanos adds a depth and Eastern European flavor to the music that McCarthy and partner Nils Frykdahl hinted at on previous releases but never quite to this extent.

The percussion is also much more evolved on this album, calling to mind at times the early self-released disc 'Mother Twilight', but much more eclectic and omnipresent. "On the Open Plains" with its Kate Bush-like syncopated drumming circa 'The Dreaming', as well as the almost pagan-sounding "Hear the Grinder Creak" are the best examples.

One more great addition is Cornelius Boots with his bass clarinet (and sometimes flute). McCarthy included a smattering of trumpet and clarinet on 2006's 'Transit Rider', but other than Frykdahl's occasional flute playing this is the first time a wind instrument has been prominently featured.

I haven't formed a complete opinion of the album as a whole yet, although I will end this review by giving it four out of five stars simply because it's a Faun Fables album and it holds up early as well as anything else they've done to-date. But it doesn't grab me (yet) like all the rest did almost immediately after I first heard them. This one is more mature and complex, reflecting I suppose the growth of the band itself and of McCarthy and Frykdahl's personal and musical partnerships in particular. And for that reason I expect it'll take some time for 'Light of a Vaster Dark' to click. But I've no doubt whatsoever it will, and the disc will grace my CD changer in the coming months in anticipation of that moment. Well recommended even if you've never heard the band before.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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