Sunday, 9 October 2011

Trembling Bells - The Constant Pageant

This is Trembling Bells second studio album, the first was a very vague, light hearted traditional folk album which has been clearly influenced by the 60's Psych Folk era. This album carries the Psych Folk style, but it brings in modern influences and Folk by the likes of Bellowhead. You can still hear the traditional aspects, the drumming follows a similar patter to a high number of modern Indie-Folk artists, whilst the guitar work is very distorted and has layers of drone in some areas.

The album starts with a very melodic track called Just As The Rainbow, we're introduced to singer Lavinia Blackwall, who uses her voice very well to keep with the Folk and traditional aspects. It's very Shirley & Dolly Collins like. Something which i admire myself is the Psych Folk movement in the UK during the 60's, so this band are familiar with me.

It has been produced well, it's a very loud album. The second track, All My Favourite Mistakes, is a very melodic song where both Lavinia and the other band members give a vocal. It's one of the strongest songs on the album, but it's loud and simplistic which doesn't really give them any positives when comparing them to the original Electric Folk bands of the 60's.

It's clear that they have been influenced by The Incredible String Band, you can hear this throughout the album. Trembling Bells just are not as careful and raw as the original 60's artists. But they're not aiming for this, they want a modern day sound whilst keeping the melody and dynamics which Psych Folk had. I think they do this very well, even if the music doesn't sound as neat and tidy.

The bass work isn't very distinctive, the Rhythm guitar can be noted on some tracks such as with To See You Again, but the Rhythm is surrounded in the mask of sound which is thrown at you. I'm not a fan of this Wall of Sound within Folk music. It doesn't need to be as bright as they've produced it. The inclusion of piano is respectful and distinctive, but the electric guitar in some places sounds horrible. It's needed to give that edge but the distortion is sometimes a little too fuzzy for this style of music. It ruins the atmosphere for me.

Strings are used in the final track, New Year's Eve's The Loneliest Night Of The Year. It's a solid final track focusing around the winter months, the period where Folk really does shine. This album however is more of a Spring album. I fins that you cant listen too loud because the production just isn't that great on some tracks. The recording of strings and brass just isn't up to standard, the brass on the final track sounds rushed and it's not really needed.