Saturday, May 7, 2011


Consider this the closest I'll ever come to condoning rampant Burnerism.

The Faun Fables story goes something like this: At some point in the late 90's, the Burner-esque NYC-based freak-folk singer/songwriter Dawn McCarthy moves west, relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area to seek her fate amongst the burnouts and weirdos who reside therein. There she meets up with the bizarre and hugely-talented (if not somewhat Burner-esque) Nils Frykdahl, acrobatic vocalist and driving force behind such groundbreaking performance art/musical acts as Idiot Flesh and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The combination of their talents proves to be a unique and multi-faceted journey into the medieval and the disturbing--Faun Fables is born with the release of their first album Early Song in 1999.

Yes, yes. I hear the voices rising in protest already.
Guilty Pleasures Week is over! Isn't "folk" music the antithesis of what IllCon stands for? Isn't this in fact the type of stuff we usually aim to destroy?
Indeed it is, and Family Album's only downfall is its occasional propensity for plodding along in folky gloom for a bit too long at points (see the first track, "Eyes of A Bird"). But stick with it for a bit, and if you aren't hooked by the album's finest track, "Lucy Belle" (a Frykdahl-centric ode to his dog which quickly spirals out of control, cascading into lyrics about "riding the animal down to the kingdom of stone" and vague references to the "final battle" between man and beast), you will be by the distinctly Eastern-European tilt of the whole thing, or the haunting quality of the lyrics, or, failing all that, the all-encompassing CREEPINESS of atmosphere contained herein.
Not standard IllCon fare by any stretch, but there are amazing songs to be found everywhere on this 15-track epic, not only the aforementioned "Lucy Belle", but other schizophrenic gems as well, such as "Fear March", "Still Here", and the deceptively bouncy "Carousel With Madonnas", which Sonic Asymmetry describes thusly: "This is Zygmunt Konieczny’s astounding masterpiece from the early 1960s. Originally Ewa Demarczyk’s most famous anthem, the knock-out staccato is reproduced here perfectly by Brian Schachter on piano. But what is truly stunning is the fact that Miron Bialoszewski’s poem is so ardently expressed by McCarthy’s uncanny, polysyllabic diction. She makes it appear easy, but it is not. Who would have thought that this song would be translated, much less sung so distinctly in another language? The rectilineal form is only slightly softened by Osanna-like flutes and decorative percussion. Nonetheless, it will remain a demonic stop-go waltz, fully dependent on emphatic piano attacks. " Got it?

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