Folk album of the month – Trembling Bells: Dungeness

Wild and rebellious British folk band enter adolescence with a howl of song and a glint in the eye.  

How strange it is that folk music is so often hampered by politeness, when its subjects are life, death, murder and sex. Subtlety has its values, of course, but it’s still rare to hear a folk artist strain at the leash, bare their teeth. Enter Trembling Bells, one decade and six albums old, about to enter adolescence with a glint in the eye.

Still pivoting around the wild writing and playing of singing drummer, Alex Neilson (recently the percussionist on Shirley Collins’s Lodestar) and the extraordinary soprano of Lavinia Blackwall, Trembling Bells have always sounded quite beholden to their late 1960s influences, recreating Fairport Convention’s longing loveliness or the Incredible String Band’s whimsy without whipping up something of their own. But Dungeness plunges us into louder, darker territories. Named after the shingly Kent headland to which the band made a trip, Neilson said the place felt like the end of the world, and this album’s themes follow suit. The music is a mixture of avant-garde racket and crossover doom-pop potential – fans of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave or Nadine Shah will find entertainments here.

Big Nothing begins softly but bleakly, with a man who can’t be knocked down (since he’s “already on the ground”), and ends with a spiralling, smile-raising, out-of-tune squeal. Death Knocked at My Door is belly-deep soul fed through a folk-horror filter. Knocking on the Coffin is utterly fantastic, a wah-wah-pedal headbanger tailor-made for an Italian horror film, while I’m Coming sees Blackwall’s singing climax wildly. A technically gifted singer who can obviously hit every note perfectly, she lets the seams tear and split here, and the results are addictive [ . . .  ]

Read More at Source: THE GUARDIAN  Folk album of the month – Trembling Bells: Dungeness

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