Review: The Doomed Bird of Providence - Will Ever Pray (2011)


artist: The Doomed Bird of Provid­ence
release: Will Ever Pray
format: CD
year of release: 2011
label: Front & Fol­low
dur­a­tion: 51:59

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

The first album by London-based pro­ject The Doomed Bird of Provid­ence let by Mark Kluzek is imme­di­ately a bulls-eye. These nine tracks of naut­ic­ally inspired folk set an atmo­sphere per­fectly and holds moments of great musical beauty.

Although Kluzek’s drunken sailor type voice is the first thing that hits you when you play the album, and it may take some get­ting used to, it quickly becomes clear that this music asks for exactly this type of raw, hon­est, and pathos-filled vocals. The first few tracks bear a heavy stamp of his­tor­ical sea shanty styl­ings, and they sway gently, accom­pan­ied by gui­tar, accor­dion, violin, bells, and per­cus­sion. Not stuck in the past though, the music also shows par­al­lels with mod­ern exper­i­mental folk, not in the least Cur­rent 93’s Sleep Has His House, though less min­im­al­istic than that par­tic­u­lar album. Those first four tracks are all solid stuff, slow and drawn out, mourn­ful and moody.

The massive five-part final of the album is a great work unto itself, though. “The Mas­sacre Of The Whole Of The Pas­sen­gers And Part Of The Crew Of The Sea Horse On Her Home­ward Pas­sage From Sydney”, as the piece is called, starts with a gor­geous deep violin drone last­ing a full six minutes, which is gradu­ally joined by more instru­ments to form a won­der­ful long intro to the grue­some tale that is the nar­rat­ive heart of the suite, told in rauc­ous style in parts two and three. The fourth part is a slow and sad piano-based track which emphas­ises the tragedy of the tale, while the short fifth part is a ship­board set­ting of “Dives and Laz­arus” tying the piece and the album firmly together into the annals of folk his­tory.

It’s both the gen­eral vis­ion and the atten­tion to musical details that make Will Ever Pray a great suc­cess. From the spot-on vocals, com­pos­i­tion, and instru­ment­a­tion to little touches like the viol­ins imit­at­ing the creak of a ship’s rig­ging, it all works as it should. Albums like these, like sea voy­ages, are bold endeav­ours into unknown ter­rit­ory, but thank­fully Kluzek and his crew fare a lot surer than the ships that are sung about on this record, which is one of the essen­tial listens in altern­at­ive folk of this year. It’s lim­ited to 250 cop­ies on CD, release by Front & Fol­low, so get it while the getting’s good.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. On A Moon­lit, Ragged Sea (4:33)
2. The Wild Beast Of Goat Island (4:37)
3. On The Deathbed Of Janus Weath­er­cock (6:24)
4. Fed­i­cia Exine (8:28)

The Mas­sacre Of The Whole Of The Pas­sen­gers And Part Of The Crew Of The Sea Horse On Her Home­ward Pas­sage From Sydney 
5. Part 1 (10:28)
6. Part 2 (2:24)
7. Part 3 (5:02)
8. Part 4 (6:20)
9. Part 5 (3:43)