This is a review of "It made her look spidery" recorded by Deerpark. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
The slightest thing about this CD is the relative frailness of the songs themselves. The tunes are gentle modulations around a couple of notes that suit the singer's range. You'd struggle to sing along with them. But you might want to pick up your instrument and add some lines of your own. The lyric themes are ethereal and keep slipping out of the range of conscious attention. You're with them while they're playing - but then there's no trace beyond a peaceful mood after they've gone.
Neverthebloodyless "it made her look spidery" is a dreamily wonderful set of recordings. I think it was Charles Darwin who first suggested the physical connection between music and the emotions. Music works by changing our body chemistry, and we all take the dose we need to achieve the state of bliss, arousal, aggression or salvation that we crave for survival.
Deerpark do serenity, at-one-with-universeness, and nearly-cherished.
Track one is "burning photos" (no Authoritarian Capitalisation Here!). After that "annabelle's mother", "wolf song", "caravan", "circa 85E" and "hidden water" are titles that give you all the right clues about what you're going to hear. It's on the edge of a dream world, flickering and fading with bursts of sunlight and curtains of cool shade, with people you sort of half know drifting in and out of sight on mysterious errands. Kind of Mull Historical Society but not annoying. Kind of Beta Band/Belle and Sebastian but gentler and more attentive to detail.
The basic items are acoustic guitar, string bass and some well made drumming in the mould of Jim White's gentle moments. Essential to the full presentation there are breathy vocals, very precise and beautiful string playing, and a variety of additional acoustic instrumentation including trumpet and banjo. It's clearly and sympathetically recorded, avoiding the slightly crowded sound that I remember from the Brudenell Social Club when they did a very good support slot for the Dirty Three earlier this year.
I especially like the twin guitar introduction to "hidden water" - the final, short track. It's simple and precise. It sets up the song with just the right amount of attention gathering. Then there's a ravishing violin (viola?) that lifts the first verse, and a humble harmonium that decorates the middle section. And, on the edge of the main vocal, there's a delightful female vocal harmony for one chorus. Like the whole album its strength is in its careful understatement.
The nearest comparison might be with Liverpool's Ella Guru, but with a stronger orchestral background in the music and a softer English feel to the songs.