Hailing from North Wales, Golden Fable are ostensibly a trio, although on new album, Alchemy, they’ve expanded way beyond that. The band’s fourth record, Alchemy sees Golden Fable redefine the boundaries of their musical output; working with North Wales’ orchestra NEW Sinfonia, who bring in rich orchestral arrangements, alongside the haunting vocals and textural soundscapes that have previously defined their work.
What makes Golden Fable stand out is the huge array of influences they seek to incorporate, present throughout are the folk influenced textures of Nick Drake, the driving post rock of Mogwai and the electronic textures of Board Of Canada. The result is not a sound that can be pinned to one style, or influence, instead it is a combination of ideas entirely Golden Fable’s own.
The beauty of the music is heavily influenced by the beauty of their surroundings, the serenity of the quiet sections and power of the heavier moments all serving as reflections of the beautiful, and sometimes rugged, surrounds of the Welsh landscape. Alongside their exploration of space and environment, the record is also inspired by the passing of time, as Tim from the band explains, “It is about how our priorities change, whether we realise it or not, and how some things that used to be of utmost significance can become irrelevant, consciously or otherwise. It is about staying true to yourself and remembering the moments that define you.”
Alchemy is the sound of a band expanding on their output, becoming more ambitious, more driven in pursuit of their musical vision. At a time when so much underground music is constrained by financial and time constraints, Alchemy seems an unusually, almost unbelievably, bold record, and Golden Fable’s finest release to date.
Today the band have put together a mix of some of the song’s they love, featuring the likes of Lucy Dacus, Andrew Bird and Erland Cooper.
1. Lucy Dacus – Night Shift
I’ve always been drawn to slowly building songs like this one. Lucy’s vocal delivery is incredible, and the way the music and intensity of the vocals combine is perfect. I love the direct, on the nose lyrics, which is something we’ve tried to do with our lyrics on Alchemy.
2. Pedro the Lion – Quietest Friend
Speaking of honest, incredibly open lyrics, there aren’t many that do it better than David Bazan. It’s been too long since we last had music from Pedro the Lion, and it’s so good to have them back. Such a poignant message, impeccably delivered by one of my favourite vocalists, and backed by a band that seem to have such an innate ability to convey his message.
3. Aldous Harding – Fixture Picture
Aldous has released one of my favourite records of the year so far. The vocal melody on this, her most recent single, is such an ear-worm, and the instrumentation is truly brilliant; from the subtle bass line to the slowly building backing vocals and the swirling strings in the bridge.
4. Andrew Bird – Anonanimal
When we started to work with Jon, the man behind the string, harp and clarinet arrangements on Alchemy, I made him a playlist of some of our biggest influences and songs that stood out in terms of production and instrumentation. This song was one of his favourites, and his arrangements definitely inspired some of our writing. I believe he’s one of the finest musicians of our age – his music has a timeless quality manages to be beautiful and have a sense of humour at the same time. A rare feat.
5. Phoebe Bridgers – Motion Sickness
Another incredibly powerful lyric, sung in an effortless yet hard-hitting manner. The melody is infectious, and the production is a delight. I love the subtly driving drums and the lovely, warm, electric piano sound.
6. Mechanical Owl – R.A.F
Mechanical Owl is one of the many guises for Mike Payne, an excellent songwriter who lives a mile or so down the road from us. The album “Winter Songs” is criminally overlooked, and to my ears deserves to sit alongside greats like Grandaddy. It was difficult to pick one song, but I chose R.A.F as it’s an expertly crafted album closer, and another excellent example of a gradual, brooding crescendo.
7. Erland Cooper – Maalie
Taken from the wonderful album, Solan Goose, inspired by the Orkney region in which Erland grew up. It’s a truly stunning record, and one that completely transports you to another, calmer, world. The expertly recorded soundscapes he creates are so vivid and powerful. It’s an album I constantly return to: a firm favourite.
8. Zequinha de Abreu – Amando sobre o Mar (Edson Lopes Arrangement)
Amando sobre o Mar is a little known piece by Zequinha de Abreu, a Brazilian composer who wrote this in the early 1900s. I am a keen classical guitarist and stumbled across this when trawling YouTube for new material to learn. I love the simultaneously mournful yet playful melody, and this arrangement by Edson Lopes is masterfully played.
Alchemy is out now via Full Of Joy Records. Click HERE for more information on Golden Fable.