2016 is turning into a busy year for Witchcraft frontman Magnus Pelander. His Swedish doom time-travellers released their fifth album in January, and it’s followed by this full-length solo debut, confirming the man’s instinctive ear for beguiling, off-kilter melodies.
It’s already six years since he released his solo EP, A Sinner’s Child – a promising but tentative four-tracker tapping into another underground musical tradition from this assiduous record collector’s beloved 1970s: that of the loner-folk private pressing, wherein depressive singer-songwriters quietly contemplate looming darkness with minimal acoustic instrumentation and wounded vocals.
Much of that atmosphere remains on Time – especially throughout eccentric 10-minute psych jumble Precious Swan and the ghostly closing title track. But with elements of rustic Americana and guest musicians on flute, cello, violin, harmonica and backing vocals the LP sounds more like a tasteful team effort than a tortured soul coming down off bad acid. However, in the press release, Magnus admits he “can’t remember” who played violin and cello, so some of that mental fragility is evidently retained.