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MARTIN GREEN - Crows’ Bones

MARTIN GREEN - Crows’ Bones
Reveal Records REVEAL036CDX

Commissioned by Opera North, Martin Green’s corvine inspired venture explores our morbid fascination with darkness and death in songs and sound with principal collaborators Becky Unthank, Inge Thomson, Niklas Roswall and Adrian Utley.

Collectively, they generate a soundscape for a ghastful, cobwebby attic inhabited with menacing marionettes, dusty doll’s house and self-propelling rocking horse! The reverberant tonal qualities of Roswall’s nyckelharpa are particularly well suited and Green’s keyed instruments provide some disturbingly boomy low end jolt and tinkly high end uneasiness! Clever instrumental layering combined with echo effects, edgy distortion and nagging noises such as scrapes, scratches, creaks, rasps and bangs add unsettling atmosphere aplenty. The keystone to this haunting structure is the palpable presence of Becky and Inge’s supremely evocative voices.

Opening Mess Of Crows, a dynamically fear-charged story involving the henge monument at Stenness, has an eerily chanted insistence (“but it’s not meant to be”) hinting things won’t end well. The Lyke Wake Dirge precedes a scarily nagging repeated arco saltando effect, using a single cello string over a log, backing Green and Thomson’s Some Living. A madding musical box enlivens Conor O’Brien’s I Saw The Dead before its daringly demonic ending. The hurtling hellish gleam of the shellfire storm in Sean Cooney’s One December Morn comes before the descent of the ghastly gleaning Three Ravens with dynamic spark and then manic intensity. There’s a thrilling chilling denouement to poet John Manifold’s Griesly stalked subject being found lying in “a crimson tide” before Yakutian trio Ayarkhaan’s mouth harp adds to the restless nightmare evoked in second improvised piece Some Dead.

So, snuff out the candle, sit forward perhaps and listen...and…did you lock the door?

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.