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In case you missed it: Fern Knight, Castings

Fern Knight
[vhf Records (2010)]

After merely a cursory listen to a few tracks from Castings, one might assume that Fern Knight is a long-lost gem from the British folk-psych scene of four decades ago but in fact the group (and the name does refer to a group and not to a woman) is from Philadelphia. Fern Knight’s influences range from 1970s raga-rock to gothic trad-folk to prog-rock. The only cover is of King Crimson’s “Epitaph,” on which the group substitutes cello and violin for the original mellotron. The group’s album from 2006 was called Music for Witches and Alchemists, and this one extends the arcane references to the ways in which the Tarot and its archetypes continue to manifest themselves in present day society. Although the music initially comes across as too layered and gossamery to be memorable, repeated listens reveal its charms. Margaret Ayre, the group’s singer, who also plays cello and guitar, conveys an air of fey detachment that fits the music well. The musicians successfully integrate violin, harp, and electric guitar into the arrangements, the latter instrument sometimes played with exquisite use of feedback. Castings, the group’s fourth album, consists of heady music which is rendered all the more enigmatic by the fact that lyrics aren’t included.

—Paul-Emile Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)

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