Fans of Espers will instantly recognise Meg Baird’s voice, which has guided that group through some intricate prog/folk structures over the last decade.
Her delivery reminds of the cool poise of Jacqui McShee in Pentangle, and on Beneath Fields the slowly unravelling tune is reminiscent of Fairport at their most ‘out there’. Wah-wah guitars embellish the verse as a portent of things to come and ultimately break loose in an update of the 60s West Coast jams by the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service, while Baird maintains a simple drum pattern. Seventeen Landscapes has a feel that evokes both Richard Thompson’s Celtic guitar drones and John Cale’s see-sawing viola. At over 10 minutes you just know there will be guitar wigouts on Rama, and they rear up menacingly out of the rather linear tune. It’s noisy and spectacular and certainly qualifies as psych-folk (both psychedelic and psychotic), but rather overbalances the song. This mix of light and darkness is deployed most effectively on the more compact Oriar, a thrilling mix of stately vocals shaping a lovely tune, and surging waves of guitars that are just held in check.