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EFFRA - Below Ground

EFFRA - Below Ground
Private Label SOURCE130717

Contradictorily “chin-stroking contemporary folk” yet also “post folk” in their own social media epigrams, this is the second release from this dazzlingly skilled trio following Lose An Hour (which I happily reviewed for LT105) in 2014.

Tom Newell (fiddle, viola, mouth harp, field recordings), Alex Bishop (guitar, melodeon) and Aidan Shepherd (accordion, keyboard, piano, ‘bicycle’) again (with, incidentally, an uncredited seemingly rogue banjo!) combine their alchemic avant-gardist artistry collaboratively to create 11 original instrumental pieces that audibly draw on classical, jazz, and contemporary music and several progressive strands of Celtic and European folk traditions.

Their own definition for opening piece Musicophilia, “an abnormal craving for organised sound and/or music”, is a useful overall summation. Sophisticated layering and interweaving of melodic and rhythmic patterns, using varied time signatures, key changes, syncopation, and dynamic movement and mood typify their approach in creating music rich with euphonious and hauntingly mesmeric qualities, and, at times, a sheer arresting beauty.

Some abstract sounds were skilfully deployed on their debut release for textural and scenic effect. Here, drawing plutonic inspiration specifically from their namesake subterranean London watercourse, the Effra river, in places they have incorporated some profound ‘found sound’ (captured underneath the Thames, near to their eponymous source, and Wiltshire’s limestone quarry Box Freestone Mine) of an underground, often watery nature, to create eerily evocative and elemental soundscapes that add significant atmospheric interest to some pieces.

Suitably deep, amply befitting its title, this is adventurous, innovative and intricate modern chamber music that will repay repeated listening over worthily lost hours!

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.