And is this what you wanted
To live in a house that is haunted
By the ghost of you and me?
That’s taken from Leonard Cohen‘s track, Is This What You Wanted, illustrating that whilst Ghost-Folk might just be this years daftest genre, musical history is littered with references to ghosts, spectres and death.
You can go back to Lonnie Johnson and the very early blues recordings of the 1920’s and you’ll find him singing about “the blue ghost” who “haunts me at night rides me all night long” or come right up to date with the likes of The Low Anthem’s superb track, To The Ghosts Who Write History Books, and Laura Marling who’s a bit obsessed with spectres and spooks, they broke her heart before she met you in her track Ghosts, but also plague her lovers dreams in Night Terrors and if it’s not ghost, she’s lying with the Devil, in the Devil’s Resting Place, makes you wonder if she’s watched one too many horror films doesn’t it?
Band Of Horses sang of the power of paranoia to make you believe in the supernatural in Is There A Ghost, allegedly inspired by “an ice-cream maker that was freaking me out.” Even Neil Young‘s at it singing about “a ghost from a wishin’ well” and his musical output unquestionably inspired Jeff Tweedy the frontman of Wilco, who went on to right an entire album entitled A Ghost Is Born.
Ghosts, be they real or more often metaphorical, flow through music history and as such punctuate our culture, even if the more cynical amongst us might remain a touch on the skeptical side for them even existing!
Weyes Blood is the project of Natalie Mering, former member of Jackie-O-Motherfucker, still one of the greatest band names of all time
The go to phrase in a lot of the reviews and previews of Weyes Blood seems to be ghost-folk. Though my attempts to find anyone who’s written a definition of ghost folk have failed, and being a naturally cynical music blog we’re starting to wonder if the fact her latest album’s out just before Halloween might be behind the terminology of choice. That said it’s not a bad description, the songs built around multi-part harmonies (all performed by Natalie herself) certainly have a spooky quality, as do the Pentangle inspired folk back-drops, and the heavy use of electronics and tape affects.
She’s currently based in New York, though previous adventures have seen her find residence in an artist’ dwelling in Baltimore and in an incredibly rural part of Kentucky. All very different, but equally fascinating places I’m sure you’ll agree.
Weyes Blood’s back catalogue stretches back to 2007 and a smattering of self released singles, a debut full length album, The Outside Room, appeared in 2011 on Not Not Fun. Now signed to Mexican Summer, home of Peter Matthew Bauer and Connan Mockasin amongst others, the follow up album The Innocents will follow on October 21st.
How about an unsettling deep knowledge of music? She describes it as “a futurist interpretation” of traditional music and speaks openly of the influence of Musique Concrete, Noel Gallagher this ain’t, thank heavens for that. As well as talking the talk she also walks the walk, what on the outside are fairly straight-forward folk songs are given a fascinating make-over via the use of sound-effects, and the wonderful treatment of her own voice. It’s her voice that for the most part takes the lead, the beautifully close-nit harmonies are spectacular.
Accessible, or easy listening this is not. Dense layers of vocal, instrumentation and what can only be really described as noise might be to some people’s tastes a little over-complicated. However if you’re a fan of the equally-hi-brow likes of Marissa Nadler or Arc Iris it’s definitely for you.
Weyes Blood’s new album The Innocents is out on October 20th on Mexican Summer.