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400 copies in reverse board sleeve.
Release date: April 11th 2011
Based in South Shields, Dark Sky Singers are a creative collective who have already invested hard earned folk currency in the bank of Static Caravan. Specifically the ep , Like No English (VAN208) in 2011. Guy Garvey and Gideon Coe, among others, have already fallen under their haunting spell. Their new single, ‘The Haunting’ is set to win them even more admirers thanks to three tracks of folk-driven splendour.
Yes, there are hints of the rustic grandeur of Green-era REM, woven into a bewitching tapestry of folk instrumentation but this could equally be the gold refined from a Lambchop session or a poetic score for a 1968 Milos Forman film. Winding majestically, ‘The Harrowing’ is a heart-warming amalgam of finger-picked guitar, accordion, piano and jittering rhythms which provide vibrant energy, underpinning hushed vocals. As the final piano chord resonates and brings the song to a crashing finale, you know you’ve heard something special.
Even better is the tumbling melancholia on the flipside, ‘The Ghost Man’. Achingly beautiful, it’s lugubrious but unremittingly lovely and raw – recalling Stuart Staples’ solo forays, it takes plaintive piano and underscores it with barely-there percussion which pulses quietly beneath the starkly poignant melody. Ostensibly a duet with male and female vocals, it’s part torch song and part quirky indie-flick soundtrack – when muted strings are introduced halfway through, spines tingle and neck-hairs stand to attention. Building a quiet intensity similar to ‘Piano’ from their previous EP, theirs is a simple maturity which enchants like Lambchop at their most bruised and spectral.
The closing track on the single is ‘Quintain’, a short but beguiling slice of twisted folk picking out a circular guitar melody which trickles slowly into the consciousness; delicate, charming and with the chill of early spring accompanying every step.
There’s a nagging country-noir feel which sits well with their dark folk vignettes, complemented by found sounds which lend a beautiful, ethereal quality to Dark Sky Singers’ songcraft. In a parallel universe somewhere, they have a bigger audience than Mumford & Sons. These three tracks are perfectly formed; moving and electrifying, their macabre tales are like Bill Callahan setting up an arts & crafts stall in the north of England with the Incredible String Band for company.