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If you've been following the Crucial Blast stock lists for awhile, you've probably noticed my love of the Pennsylvania based folk group Stone Breath. Folk music isn't something that you see all that often here at C-Blast, but Timothy Renner's group (and assorted other projects) travel along darker roads than most, evoking ancient, crumbling cemeteries and dark hollows covered over with undergrowth and moss. These places exist outside of the omnipresent buzz of the modern world, and I never tire of visiting their shadowed corners. Undeath is a new full length disc from Renner's latest offshoot, Time Moth Eye, and it follows some of the same spectral trails as Stone Breath but also possesses a noticeably creepier feel, a kind of graveyard drone-folk that echoes over overturned headstones and partially exposed bones in long forgotten burial plots along the back roads of rural Pennsylvania, possessed of an ancient, cobwebbed ambience. Along with the music, this release also includes a thick artist's chapbook that contains forty-four pages of eerie illustrations and scratchboard drawings that are deeply connected to the moldering sounds captured on the disc.
The disc begins with the eldritch ambience of "Stonepusher", where tolling church bells and monstrous growling electronics melt into the sounds of warbling harmonica and backwards singing, the nine songs on Undeath travel through a spectral realm of broken graveyard folk songs, ancient cobwebbed drones, and grimly beautiful night-ballads. On the song "Wake", the band calls out to stargazers through the slow-motion harmonium-like wheeze and processed plunk of the instruments, which flows around the song's layered voices and spacey electronic textures. The songs drift in and out of each other, the deep tones of "Wake" floating right into the primeval free-folk of "Sheetwinder", which slowly takes shape as a kind of ghastly raga, the scraping acoustic strings snaking around Timothy's deep ghostly vocals, layered over swirling synthesizer sounds as the music drifts through graveyard visions and unquiet coffins.
"Witchwalker" is one of Undeath's most captivating songs, a half-remembered night-terror cast against the delicate chiming of a xylophone and the sorrowful moan of an accordion-like instrument and withered strings, with an eerie melody that may haunt the listener for days. It leads into the soft narcoleptic hymn of "Sleep", followed by "Ossa Ossa"s Biblical texts sung in Latin to a backdrop of dark, unsettling industrial ambience. "Footsteps Fall" is another spectral folk tune drawn from the twilight ether, and it trails off into the nightmarish howl of the cellos that open "Chrysalishroud" before the song materializes into a vaporous, otherworldly wash of nocturnal cemetery psychedelia. The album's closing song " Sleepwalker / Dreamwalker" is one of the most dramatic pieces of music found on the disc, a nearly eleven minute flight through tenebrous realms beyond the threshold of sleep that features some of Undeath's most vivid imagery, the music swirling around in wraithlike wisps of black effluvium...
The grim graveyard drone-folk of Time Moth Eye's Undeath is some of the creepiest music that I've released through the Crucial Blaze series so far, and seems to exist in a strange sonic realm between the darkest folk music and the cavernous black drift of artists like Yen Pox and Lustmord. Truly chilling music that's recommended to anyone into the blackened folk sounds of Wolfmangler/Dead Raven Choir, Current 93, Aelter, Steve Von Till's Harvestman, Silvester Anfang, Hellvete, Elm, Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat, Hexvessel and similar artists....
The other half of Undeath is a thick black and white artists book that contains forty-four pages of original artwork from Renner, including pen and ink drawings, scratchboard works, and themed series. These drawings of otherworldly beings, graveyard revenants, tree and water spirits, river corpses, and skeletal balladeers are rendered in beautiful detail, recalling the black and white illustrations that you'd find in old ghost story collections from the 60s and 70s. This chapbook is bound in a black obi-band, and is packaged inside of a clear library case.
The Undeath art zine / disc set is limited to two hundred hand-numbered copies.