Review: Black Happy Day - In the Garden of Ghostflowers (2006)


artist: Black Happy Day
release: In the Garden of Ghost­flowers
format: CD
year of release: 2006
label: Sil­ber
dur­a­tion: 50:52

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Black Happy Day is a col­lab­or­a­tion of Tara Van­Flower (Lycia) and Timothy Ren­ner (Stone Breath), and if you know these two artists, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a com­bin­a­tion would sounds like. In the Garden of Ghost­flowers is a strange and ori­ginal mix­ture of tra­di­tional song (in wyrd­folk style), cold dark­wave, and fur­ther exper­i­ments. Not your every­day con­cept, in short, but Tara and Timothy make it work non­ethe­less.

The Leaves of Life” starts off the album with the two con­trast­ive voices singing in uni­son - Timothy’s dark and low, Tara’s high and clear - both delayed and rever­bed. The manip­u­la­tion of vocals returns often through­out the album, enhan­cing the ghostly air that hangs about much of this music. The title track intro­duces the banjo, which provides a back­drop for Tara’s voice which now rises in pitch. The third track, how­ever, is dif­fer­ent again. “Whore” is a dark, min­imal ambi­ent piece, with Tara’s manip­u­lated voice approach­ing the style of someone like Jar­boe. Very gloomy and atmo­spheric. This inter­chan­ging of styles con­tin­ues through­out the album, provid­ing a lot of vari­ation.

I won’t dis­sect every song, but some deserve spe­cial men­tion. The tra­di­tional “Edward” unites the styles of the first two tracks into a wyrd­folk duet with strange effects lurk­ing beneath the sur­face. “How many hours ’til the Spider’s work is done?” is one of my favour­ite tracks of the album, a long med­it­at­ive piece with impress­ive vocals (once again call­ing to mind Swans), sitar, and a dark lay­ers of bass. The last two tracks end the album on a hap­pier note. “Hand in Hand” is a sweet little duet, while “Be Thou My Vis­ion” is a hope­ful devo­tional song.

In the Garden of Ghost­flowers is a very ori­ginal and var­ied album. I can’t explain why exactly, but for some reason I didn’t imme­di­ately dig this album as much as I would expect based on the sound and ele­ments used. Nev­er­the­less, this is good stuff, and if any­one is look­ing for an ori­ginal approach to mod­ern and tra­di­tional song, with a touch of dark­wave and dark atmo­spheres, this is an excel­lent album to check out.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. The Leaves of Life (2:29)
2. In the Garden of Ghost­flowers (2:30)
3. Whore (6:48)
4. Edward (4:06)
5. Of the Wind and Loneli­ness (4:02)
6. Oh How They Weep and Moan (1:28)
7. A Lyke Wake Dirge (4:53)
8. How many hours ’til the Spider’s work is done? (9:47)
9. Wolf & Hare (7:20)
10. Hand in Hand (2:56)
11. Be Thou My Vis­ion (4:33)