Faun Fables

Mother Twilight

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If they had been born 20 years earlier, the West Coast duo of Dawn "the faun" McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl would have been regulars at the Hotel California. Like two deserters from the British political punk group Crass taking refuge in the film The Wicker Man, Faun Fables are myth-making separatists with a Pagan agenda. To say that the songs on Mother Twilight reside in the ghostly predusk is an understatement, as they exist in a realm that transcends even the netherworld. McCarthy delivers each lyric like an incantation, often surprising herself with wordless sheep-calls and primeval yodeling. On the breathtaking "Sleepwalker," she seems as blissfully unaware as the protagonist, leaving the listener to carry the burden of her impending waking, and when she announces "my arms out before me, the bushes don't ignore me," it's more than apparent that she's long gone. Once out of the gate, the record plays like a dream diary, chronicling everything from conversations with moths to being chased by ambiguous beasts through the forest. Frykdahl's arsenal of instruments punctuates each new locale with a sense of urgency, often replying directly to McCarthy's melodies, then daring her to follow his. Mother Twilight can be a difficult listen; it's intense, evil, intimate, and brave, and those are adjectives that rarely apply to the serpentine world of modern music. Fans of Comus, the Incredible String Band, and early Dead Can Dance will find much to love here, but those who meet the evening with the door cracked, the light on, and the floor beneath the bed inspected need not embark on this journey.

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