3 Apr 2012

The Hare And The Moon - The Grey Malkin (Review)

Following on from their rather excellent debut (reviewed here) it's now time for us to draw your attention to it's successful and some might say, superior follow-up.
The modus operandi from album number one is the same - traditional folk material stripped down to it's creepiest elements, colored by a wide range of influences - soundtracks, industrial, doom, drone and a whole lot more. The mysterious Grey Malkin from the Hare And The Moon has admitted that it's his intention to make the music captured herein every bit as unsettling as the lyrics of these often quite morbid traditional tales of murder, mayhem and general woe. He succeeds admirably.
The production quality has been bumped up several notches, enough so for freshly mixed versions of two tracks from the first album, The Rolling of the Stones and Lyke Wake Dirge, to be included here as welcome bonus tracks, both in much more dynamic shape than their original versions.
Of the new material there's a mixture of the familiar (although often pushed in new and unexpected directions) and the new.
She Moved Through the Fair is presented as a stark acapella and is haunting in both senses of the word. An ethereal vocal performance which sounds like it's not meant for mortal ears.
Mary Rose's clever use of clockwork mechanisms for it's rhythm track and beautifully understated wordless vocals create an atmosphere of creeping unease which evokes the likes of Komeda's Rosemary's Baby theme, without appearing derivative. It works well enough for a reprise later on utilising backwards tape trickery which lets face it, is always good stuff.

The album's centerpiece is a clever reworking of Fairport Convention's Crazy Man Michael, albeit one which would most likely give Messieurs Thompson and Swarb nightmares. Using a sinister little snippet of dialogue from the classic TV show Children of Stones to set the mood, it starts out sparsely with female vocal and ritualistic percussion, building hypnotically to crescendo before a quite unexpected break in the percussion gives way to a doomladen dual fuzz riff which one could almost describe as Iommi-esque, if it weren't processed through so many filters. Startling.
It's these adventurous tendencies which ultimately keep the Hare And The Moon near the top of the heap in a very well-populated genre.

Want To Read More? Check Out Grey Malkin From The Hare And The Moon's Desert Island Disc Picks Here.

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