Album ReviewsReviews

Review: United Bible Studies - The Northern Lights and The Northern Dark (2006)

artist: United Bible Stud­ies
release: The North­ern Lights and The North­ern Dark
format: 3″ CD-R
year of release: 2006
label: Rus­ted Rail
dur­a­tion: 18:53

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

This is another one of those really cute 3″ CD-Rs that pop up now and then in the altern­at­ive folk under­ground, this time by United Bible Stud­ies, but again on Irish label Rus­ted Rail. One of the nice parts about this format, cute­ness aside, is that because of the lim­ited dur­a­tion, you really get to focus on a release, being able to play it again and again in a short period.

That’s cer­tainly time well spent with this excel­lent United Bible Stud­ies EP. Like The Shore That Fears The Sea, which also appeared this year, The North­ern Lights and The North­ern Dark (what a title!) show­cases the broad­ness of this band’s sound. These six tracks are a mix­ture of live out­takes and stu­dio tracks. The impro­visa­tional style, which these people pull off superbly, is nicely illus­trated by “Bubble of Earth” and “Elbow of Dawn”, both cap­tiv­at­ing and hon­est instru­mental tracks. But the band can also write songs, as proven by “Hedge School Drop Out” and the sweet - but mind the sting­ing lyr­ics! - “Pic­tures of Katia”. “Note of Hope” starts out as an improv piece for word­less voice and instru­ments, and fades into another impro­visa­tion with gui­tar, drums and flute. But, as the cliché goes, the best is saved for last. “Spoon of Haar”, recor­ded live in 2005, is a song woven together of sev­eral dis­tinct voices. I hear at least Dave Colo­han dis­play­ing his con­sid­er­able tal­ent, along with Aaron of Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon. With min­imal instru­mental back­ing in the form of a soft drone, these men put down an extremely touch­ing mel­an­cholic piece of vocal art. “Haar” means a spe­cial type of fog in a cer­tain Scot­tish dia­lect, and it’s a well-chosen title, for this song would go along per­fectly with a teary gaze upon mist draw­ing closer towards you over the hills.

For a mish-mash of songs, The North­ern Lights… is a pretty sound release, and it forms the per­fect little com­pan­ion to the equally excel­lent full length album from this year. Once again, United Bible Stud­ies prove to be one of Europe’s finest when it comes to freefolk.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Bubble of Earth (2:58)
2. Pic­tures of Katia (1:49)
3. Note of Hope (4:14)
4. Hedge School Drop Out (1:23)
5. Elbow of Dawn (2:37)
6. Spoon of Haar (5:52)