WHO#01 - drcarlsonalbion and the Hackney Lass - Modern English Folklore volume one: Hackney
A: Hackney Iliad
B: Tyler's Hand of Glory
C: Hackney Iliad (instrumental)
D: Tyler's Hand of Glory (instrumental)
Digital Download – “Modern English Folklore volume one: Remixes”
Download at the iTunes Store
1: Hackney Iliad Marsh Remix
2: Tyler’s Wick Syrup Remix
Collages – Battle Of The Eyes.
Guitars/music by Dylan Carlson. Original writings vocalised by Rosie Knight, a young spoken word poet and activist from Hackney. Recorded by Stuart Hallerman at Avast!, Seattle, June 2012. Vinyl cut by Jason Goz at Transition Mastering Studios, London, July 2012.
‘Modern English Folklore Vol.1: Hackney’ is the second release in the ongoing drcarlsonalbion project, begun by Dylan Carlson of Earth. It reflects his longstanding interest in the occult folklore and history of the United Kingdom and his abiding love for all things British.
The first release, ‘Edward Kelley’s Blues’ b/w ‘Drunk on Angelspeech’ for cassette-only label The Tapeworm, comprised spectral environmental recordings from the area around Waterloo Station, a former haunt of magicians and alchemists in the early modern era, and the site of one of Dylan’s own encounters with ‘spiritual creatures’. That release focused on Dr John Dee and, more importantly, his much-maligned scryer/medium, Edward Kelley. This second instalment uses ancient myth and occult lore, updated to the present-day Borough of Hackney in London’s East End.
This is a double 7” on The Wormhole, a byproduct of The Tapeworm. The second disc features instrumental tracks. Also available as a DRC digital download featuring two remixes exclusive to this format. “England, oh, perfidious England, as the ramparts of its seas were inaccessible to the Romans, there also the faith of Christ is kept at bay.”
A drcarlsonalbion tour of the UK and Ireland is planned for October, culminating in a performance at the Supersonic Festival in Birmingham. Dylan Carlson will be accompanied by an ensemble featuring the Hackney Lass, focussing on the third drcarlsonalbion release ‘La Strega and the Cunning-Man’ (a Latitudes session).
The Wire (UK):
One single of Dylan Carlson playing quiet electric guitar figures while Rosie Knight recites a pair of wonderful imagist pieces, mixing the contemporary with the legendary in a soft yet sharp English voice. Then another of Carlson solo. Stunning.
Bewitching first instalment from The Tapeworm’s “format-free” new imprint The Wormhole, pairing Dylan Carlson’s guitar soundscaping with original writings vocalised by Rosie Knight, a young spoken word poet and activist from Hackney. It's the second issue from Earth’s Dylan Carlson for his drcarlsonalbion project, and the first volume of ‘Modern English Folklore’ furthering his longstanding interest in the occult history and folklore of the UK. While the previous edition, ‘Edward Kelley's Blues’ documented his visits to Waterloo station through the use of spectral field recordings, this one literally features a gripping poetic narrative incanted with a strong Hackney accent crossing sonic and metaphysical lines between ancient greek tragedy and arcane lore transposed to a modern day East End. The enunciation and articulation of both artists is so well measured as to avoid any cloying cliche - this really had the danger of becoming a dodgy project - but the effect of Carlson’s restrained, swirling guitar minimalism and Knight’s clipped consonants and poised delivery has us rapt throughout.
The first thing one notices about this second chapter in Dylan Carlson's drcarlsonalbion project is, of course, the presentation, with its two seven-inch vinyl discs (black or clear) enclosed within a strikingly illustrated gatefold sleeve; thankfully, the songs on the discs themselves are as striking. For this project, the Earth guitarist is joined by Rosie Knight, a young spoken word poet and activist from Hackney who gives voice to her writings on the first disc's two pieces; the second disc is the same material presented in instrumental form, the voice wholly stripped away. Whereas Edward Kelley's Blues / Drunk on Angelspeech, the inaugural drcarlsonalbion release, appeared on cassette and used alchemist John Dee as a springboard, Modern English Folklore Vol.1: Hackney shifts the focus to ancient myth and occult folklore and the present-day borough of Hackney in London's East End.
On the opening song, “Hackney Iliad,” Carlson's guitar provides a gently drifting base for Knight's distinctive, measured delivery. Sometimes violent in its imagery, the text references familiar mythological figures (Cronos, Orpheus, Odysseus) by way of relating the text to a modern-day narrative rooted in East End. Side two's “Tyler's Hand of Glory” recounts the dramatic story of a man who pursues occult learning, seeing himself as a modern-day Warlock who monitors suicides on a police scanner; a sense of dread and gloom infuses Knight's cryptic text, which Carlson nicely complements with a raw yet unobtrusive backing. As captivating as Knight's presence is, there's a part of me that's drawn even more to the instrumental versions, simply because one gets to hear Carlson's tremolo-laden playing without anything else getting in the way. When reduced to electric guitar and effects only, “Hackney Iliad” becomes a meditative drone reminiscent of Fear Falls Burning in its slow unfolding, while “Tyler's Hand of Glory” presents an even more molten handling of the material.
Aquarius Records (US):
The first release from The Wormhole, a non tape offshoot of UK label the Tapeworm, comes in the form of this long in the works double 7” from drcarlsonalbion, aka Dylan Carlson of doomtwang slowcore sludgelords Earth. We first heard from Carlson’s alter ego on the now out of print Tapeworm tape Edward Kelley’s Blues, which found Carlson beginning to musically explore his fascination with the occult and UK folklore, that record a mix of field recordings (of particularly occultic locations), Carlson’s guitar, and some subtle vocals (sung in Enochian at one point) sounding not that far removed from Earth, albeit at their most bleary and softly psychedelic. The sound here finds Carlson creating dark, droning, buzz drenched sprawls of psychedelic guitar buzz, and twang flecked shimmer, and this time is even less removed from modern Earth, the music here a backdrop for spoken word by UK spoken word poet / activist Rosie Knight, the combination is pretty potent, Knight’s lyrics mysterious, her voice nicely raspy, her accent thick, it definitely speaks to a sort of witchy seventies acid folk vibe, which we would imagine is precisely what Carlson was hoping to conjure. But for those of you (like some of us here), have issues with ‘spoken word’, fear not, the second 7” in this double set features instrumental versions of both tracks, and sans spoken word, they are essentially two new Earth cuts! Not sure how limited this is, but we're guessing VERY. You know what that means...
Despite his seeming obsession with angels (just look at the list of titles of Earth’s albums and songs), Dylan Carlson’s current obsession with fairies and the occult history of England came as a bit of a surprise. Images of him playing fey faux folk music in tights came to mind but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I am glad I did as his drcarlsonalbion project is turning out to be just as intriguing as his work with Earth.
A few weeks ago, Carlson played a show here in Dublin devoted to this new direction and, unfortunately, it seemed like a mess. Using pre-recorded beats and too many effects on his guitar, I felt it was self-indulgent and a major misstep for an artist who has been so consistently brilliant over the last 20 years. Above all, I was regretting having pre-ordered this release (and the Kickstarter for the forthcoming drcarlsonalbion album). However, when these 7” singles finally arrived, I was completely taken aback by how good they were.
The second disc features two instrumental versions of these two poems set to music. Carlson’s guitar is still bathed in effects (a lot of tremolo, even compared to what he was using with Earth at the height of their dark country phase) but here the tone is more appealing than whatever he was using at the Dublin show. Intricate but slow, his style has moved on from his work on recent Earth albums though it is still recognizably him. The ringing drones and hazy melodies flow into each other like tributaries into a large, ponderous river (perhaps the Thames given Carlson’s current interests).
Based on this, Carlson’s excellent cassette of field recordings released on The Tapeworm earlier in the year and the new Latitudes session EP that has just come out (review coming soon), my fears about how Carlson has literally gone away with the fairies seem to be completely unjustified. With any luck, he will synthesize the three different approaches utilized on these three releases and create something utterly supernatural.
Tiny Mix Tapes (US):
Listening to Modern English Folklore Volume One: Hackney and looking at its packaging epidermis, I realize I don’t have enough gatefold 2x7-inches; I also, frankly, don’t have enough Earth records (and I have both the infamous Bible 2xLP and the two most-recent double albums), considering how towering a presence Dylan Carlson has been all these years, particularly in the Pacific Northwest (land of the eternal cloud, former home to one Gumshoe). He’s gone Heavy, he’s gone Mystical, he’s gone climax-free post-rock, and now, he’s gone straight English, providing a supple bed for readings of folk tales by… why, a comely-voiced lass, that’s who! Releases such as this aren’t your typical listening experience. You’re not going to pop this in while you and your buddies prefunk or whatever; Modern English is better imbibed during a weekend morning on the back porch, when turns like “The blade slipping in the blood” can be reflected upon without the distractions of life to burden them. I question whether metal freaks will have time for this, but those well-versed in Earth’s last few releases shouldn’t have any qualms. More of a flowing, float-y ferry ride this time around, guitars making light impressions while the fog provides the bulk of the experience, save, obviously, the lass, whose tales surpass a book-on-tape slog by dint of the lyrical thrust of the material. At this point, Carlson would have to foul up pretty badly to lose my absolute trust, and yet appreciation of his work is never obligatory. He earns it, as he does here and did then and will up there.