Review: Fern Floor - Elder (2012)


artist: Fern Floor
release: Elder
format: MC
year of release: 2012
label: Fort Evil Fruit
dur­a­tion: 29:54

In this year’s range of impress­ive debuts I cer­tainly want to men­tion this tape album by Irish sex­tet Fern Floor. Over six tracks and almost thirty minutes they reveal that they’ve been able to grow quite a few good prog folk songs with a wide range of influ­ences.

The three main vocal­ists each lead two of the tracks, and this opens up a great deal of vari­ation and shift of per­spect­ive for Elder. The open­ing tracks on each side are by Andrew Cun­ning­ham, start­ing with the very groovy and rhythm-driven “Anchors”, a power­ful and insist­ent song that also stresses the heav­i­ness the band attains at times. The shortish “Car­toon Moon” is a bit lighter in mood, but fea­tures a sim­ilar elab­or­ate groove by bassist Fer­gal O’Reilly and drum­mer Ray Keen­aghan. The Andrew Fox tracks are sad­der and darker, par­tic­u­larly the mel­an­cholic “Anneleis”. The last tracks on each side are sung by Emer Brady with her lovely jazzy voice. “Let Lie” is a nice quirky affair, but the real weight is on “Head of Gas, Heart of Oil”, a dark long piece on oceanic pol­lu­tion. Finally, I shouldn’t neg­lect to men­tion Ian Lynch, who subtly adds whistles, pipes, and keys through­out the album.

Though there are cer­tainly some ele­ments on Elder that give away that we’re deal­ing with first under­ground release - though clear, there’s some­thing light and unpol­ished about the pro­duc­tion; not all vocal parts are equally strong - it’s clear that Ire­land has another excel­lent folk group in its scene, and one that doesn’t shy away from influ­ences span­ning many dec­ades. There’s six­ties and sev­en­ties folk, of course, prog rock, and even a touch of metal in some melod­ies, per­haps. Not all that unlikely a com­bin­a­tion if you have band mem­bers tied to Wreck of the Hes­perus and United Bible Stud­ies, among oth­ers. Regard­less, a very good - and fur­ther­more, prom­ising - debut tape on the quickly grow­ing Fort Evil Fruit label.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Anchors (5:02)
2. Anneleis (5:54)
3. Let Lie (4:29)

4. Car­toon Moon (2:59)
5. Tightrope (4:03)
6. Head of Gas, Heart of Oil (7:27)