14 Apr 2016
Sharron Kraus - Hen Llan Recordings
Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)
Over the last fourteen years Sharron Kraus has been quietly amassing one of the most important and potentially timeless and lasting back catalogues of modern psych folk. Her previous long player, 2015's 'Friends And Enemies; Lovers and Strangers' (reviewed here at The Active Listener) was possibly a career highlight amongst a prolific and treasure filled discography. This new instrumental EP, recorded in Hen Llan in Wales, picks up where 'Friends And Enemies…' left off with a similar sense of baroque woodland pageantry, filled with a veritable forest's worth of recorder, harp and acoustic guitar.
Opener 'Hen Llano' is a delicate and eerie wonder, cascading harp suggesting an ominous wander through the shadow filled trees as trepidatious and spectral recorder enters to further add a sense of a haunted fairy tale. This piece is incredibly intricate and beautifully put together, as is the EP as a whole, and it is amazingly transportive; close your eyes and you are in another world completely, one where you might not want to stray from the path...'Holy Isle' is a more medieval sounding and dynamic piece, at times the harmonised woodwind is strident and bold before it then gently lulls as if the music itself has become bewitched. 'Sad Day At Pen Parc's melancholic air is utterly spellbinding, every harp note is discernible and the interplay between the instrumentation is seamless and hugely affecting. There is always a risk that instrumental music containing elements of harp and woodwind might stray into new age 'music of the panpipes' territory but 'Hen Llan Recordings' never does, it keeps a solid, earthy and sadly wistful air that is graceful, meaningful and emotive. Finally 'The Green Abbey' is a stately procession, the acoustic guitar keeping time as the harp descends over the beat like a waterfall. And then it is over; brief this EP might be but it is also perfect. It perhaps can be seen as a sister release or companion to 'Friends And Enemies..' and it certainly creates a genuine sense of excitement for Kraus's next release.
Released and housed in a beautiful handmade sleeve by the fine Reverb Worship label, this EP is already onto its second edition as the first sold out almost immediately. It can also be purchased as a download from Sharron's own Bandcamp page. Hasten ye there!