Grey Malkin is the brains behind 'The Hare and the Moon' whose music melds the dark majesty of Coil with the rural psychedelia of the British Acid Folk scene. He is also a regular contributor to The Active Listener blogzine. Below are his thoughts on the music that makes up his mix.
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Stone Angel – Stone Angel
I am a huge fan and an avid collector of the period of folk music in the late 60s/early 70s where something a bit darker and ‘out there’ permeated, creating what is now often labelled acid, wyrd or psych folk. Albums such as ‘Swaddling Songs’ by Mellow Candle, Caedmon’s self-titled debut album and those by Mr Fox, Sourdeline, Forest and Stone Angel are all exceptionally inspired and truly creative. Over the last few years their influence is really starting to be acknowledged which is gratifying and some of these recordings (which were often private pressings or sold very few copies at the time) have become easier to get hold of. Stone Angel’s debut is one such album and comes highly recommended; its gothic folk and chilling skeletal sparseness has been a huge influence on my own music.
Coil – Backwards
If I had to choose a band that has meant the most to me throughout the years Coil is the one that springs immediately to mind. I always return to them, they describe the world as I know it to be and how I perceive it. Liminal, lunar and lysergic their likes will never be seen of again. But the legacy they have left is some of the most emotive, transportive and pleasingly disturbed music that has ever and will ever exist. Everything is indeed backwards.
Human Greed – World Fair Theme
Human Greed (or Michael Begg) is, for me, one of the foremost composers or musicians working today. His music is just immense, the emotional impact of it and the ease with which it soaks into the air and the atmosphere. It doesn’t feel right at all to describe his music as ambient as it is not background in any sense, it is intensely affecting and demands full attention and care. I would recommend any of their work to a newcomer but ‘World Fair’ is a personal favourite, the attention to detail and the sheer beauty and melancholy of it is astounding. Michael was a first choice for me to master ‘Wood Witch’, the last The Hare And The Moon album, as I wanted something of that sense of size and space in how it sounded. He did a fantastic job.
Julie Covington – My Silks And Fine Arrays
This is more of a choice based on something I am listening to a great deal of just now rather than enduring fandom. I am not a massive aficionado of all of Julie’s material although I am a fan of her voice even on the songs which are not to my taste. It’s just a very pure, affecting and storytelling vocal performance; quite a folk singer’s voice in fact. I’m not one for warbling or showing off in music (except for prog rock in which the more absurd the better) and there is a simplicity that is powerful in how she expresses herself. It’s also a cracking song.
Caedmon – Aslan
Caedmon are one of my all-time favourite bands and their debut album is quite rightly viewed as an essential (acid) folk release. It pleases me that they formed in Edinburgh where I now reside and that I got to see them perform here a few years back when they reformed. It delights me even more that I have been able to work with Ken Patterson from the band on previous and forthcoming The Hare And The Moon material. It’s just such a magical album; the songs are otherworldly, exciting and unpredictable. Seek it out!
Nurse With Wound – Two Shaves And A Shine
Steven Stapleton has also been a constant inspiration to me, the notion that you can be a non-musician and it doesn’t matter – you can still create swathes of mood and sound that disturb, intrigue and have an impact upon the listener. He is also unconstrained by genre and you never quite know what you are getting with each new release, only that it won’t sound like anything else on this earth. His music is also exceptionally useful for annoying the neighbours, clearing out unwelcome guests and scaring small children. ‘Two Shaves And A Shine’, with its demented performance by Nurse collaborator and Current 93 frontman David Tibet alongside frantic mandolin solos, distorted guitar and a truly funky bassline is for me one of their classic ‘hits’.
United Bible Studies –The Lowlands Of Holland
This track features two singers which I could listen to all day, every day; Alison O’Donnell (from the afore mentioned Mellow Candle) and David Colohan. I especially like the way that, for the most part, this is straight folk however there are a few details and shadows in there that just twist the track slightly off kilter. It’s very subtle but powerfully done and there is a tangible darkness as a result. United Bible Studies just seem to be a bottomless well of inventive and unique recordings, they are hugely prolific yet everything they release has such a high quality control. That may be about to end as I’ve been recording with them! I’ve also recorded a track with Alison for the forthcoming ‘Songs From The Black Meadow’ compilation based on Chris Lambert’s superb book ‘Tales From The Black Meadow’.
Strawbs – Witchwood
Simply here because it is a beautiful, eerie and timeless song that is perfectly formed, it is not extravagant or overdone in any way but is just as it should be. I do like the Strawbs and the album ‘From The Witchwood’ is probably the one I reach for the most. Is ‘prog folk’ a genre? If not it should be. Perfect for listening to sitting in the heart of a wood whilst growing a beard.