Dead Raven Choir

Dead Raven Choir/Furisubi/Timothy the Revelator

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This three-way-split release lets each of the acts in question -- bound together by a general love of reinterpreting old folk forms in new fashions -- take a bow with their own particular style of minimal, mystic music. It's more effective as a sampler than as a cohesive release, but the overall stylistic connection does help everything hang together well enough. Dead Raven Choir consists of two members -- pianist Matt Rosin and multi-instrumentalist/singer Smolken -- and their nine songs all consist of adaptations of poetry from a variety of writers set to their own fragile, nervous music. G.K. Chesterton's Catholic visions are the lyrics most often employed, but it's the delivery that deserves the most attention, with Smolken's high, almost strangled voice set against everything from brusque mandolin strums to screeching, if low-volume, guitar. Furisubi's one song, "Live for an Audience of One '99," consists of dank, sometimes explosive electric guitar work that calls to mind Loren Mazzacane Connors' lengthier efforts -- not folk as such, but certainly laden with an atmosphere that suggests blasted heaths and wind whistling over hills as opposed to, say, dripping basements in Manhattan. Timothy the Revelator is also known as Tim Renner from Stone Breath, and perhaps unsurprisingly his chief band's spirit has an echo here. Whether it's the use of backward-masked vocals on songs like "Morning Wake (For Ladybug)" or the touch of echo on "Through the Fields, O'er the Hills, Under the Moon," he doesn't aim for strictly reverent reinterpretation. If anything, like Dead Raven Choir, it's more a combination of lo-fi/bedroom recording style with older sources. The apex of this contrast is "How the Earth Bleeds As the Stars Burn," a passionate number that uses distortion on both instruments and, just a touch, on vocals, even while bells and chimes drive the song forward.