30 Sept 2015

Pefkin - Liminal Rites

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

From the French Wild Silence label comes 'Liminal Rites', the latest release from Gayle Brogan's experimental psych folk project Pefkin. Also of Glasgow duo Electroscope, Brogan may additionally be known to aficionados of quality psych and underground music as the director of the much missed Boa Melody Bar mail order music store. With this new release Pefkin have created a truly beautiful paradox, something of rough hewed purity, and complex simplicity. Meditative and ritualistic with its own quiet, hushed power, this is an album for those fast approaching crisp, clear and dark autumnal nights.

Opener 'Liminal Light' begins with the sound of running water and birdsong, Brogan's soft Scottish burr reciting over haunting choral touches, not unlike the rustic and bewitching work of Fursaxa or MacGillvray. The sound of wild, discordant whistle adds to the ether, creating an eerie sense of forest magic, of something otherworldly. 'These Blazing Stars' carefully arranged chimes, accordion and spare distorted guitar frames Brogan's delicate vocals in a hazy, twilit lament to superb effect; there is something almost preternatural in this music, it skirts the edgeland between this reality and the next, between darkness and dawn. Next, the epic 'One Held Hailstones' starts with echoed, repeated vocals that reverberate to create their own metallic drones, the sound of wind and spectral voices joining in a vast resounding wintry darkness. It is hugely evocative and reminds this listener of Coil's 'Musick To Play In The Dark' series, spare and simple and yet with immense power and a solemnity and grace that demands your attention. 'Down To Currarie Port's fragile fuzz guitar also evokes a bleak and desolate landscape, albeit a beautiful one. This fifteen minute long track morphs and builds, vocal harmonies interlaced over spoken word pieces with washes of dark drones ebbing and flowing in and out and melancholy woodwind drifting by. Very much a mood piece, I challenge any listener to remain unmoved or unaffected by its quiet, stark and brittle loveliness. The album closes with 'Halluciginia', this piece begins with an organ drone that combines with analogue whispers and winds to gradually build and grow in strength and volume, again reminiscent of Coil's 'Batwings, A Liminal Hymn'. Brogan's vocals enter along with clarinet and an insistent guitar strum, each component merging into the transcendence of the whole. Not unlike hearing the sun rising, this track offers an incredibly affecting and immersive experience. White noise floats into the frame until each instrument fades, one by one leaving only the sound of solar winds howling through the emptiness and a ringing, buzzing keyboard drone. Both breathtaking and genuinely moving, it takes a few moments to adjust after listening, to come back to this world again after being so transported.

For lovers of drone, psych and wyrd folk it doesn't get any better than this. This is music for the liminal spaces, the places in between; drift awhile there with Pefkin.

Available now on CD from the splendid Wild Silence with beautiful packaging (as always with this label) that is a piece of art in itself.

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