Review: Eitarnora - Tall Grasses and Black Ash (2013)


artist: Eit­ar­nora
release: Tall Grasses and Black Ash
format: CD
year of release: 2013
label: Lak­edeer
dur­a­tion: 49:35

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

After dig­ging into their earlier demos and releases last year, I fully expec­ted Eit­ar­nora to be on the brink of pro­du­cing a really solid album. That early mater­ial showed lots of prom­ise and an ori­ginal, mean­der­ing take on folk, but it sure was rough around the edges. Tall Grasses and Black Ash shows that all it took to take the music to the next level was to sit down and do it: bet­ter record­ing qual­ity and pro­duc­tion, slightly fuller com­pos­i­tions, and a few guest appear­ances to round out the sound.

Com­pared to the tracks on e.g. Mur­mur­a­tions, these new ones sound a bit warmer and lusher. The two basic fea­tures of Eitarnora’s music — Jon Rosenthal’s clas­sical and folk gui­tar, and Val Dorr’s high voice — are still there, but there’s some more back­ground glow present as well. A bit of har­monium, soft crackles of fire, a quiet drone. On “Plains Dance”, there’s the unmis­tak­able violin of Troy Schafer adding its own grace­ful touch.

Rosenthal’s gui­tar play­ing seems more restrained, more geared towards to soft acous­tic chord under­pin­nings and layered touches of clean elec­tric gui­tar, rather than the clas­sical approach that fea­tured on some of the older tracks. Both styles have their mer­its, but the res­ult here is an album that flows softly and thickly, more lulling than before. Cent­ral track “The Grey Earth” shows off the many strong points of this album: a lovely misty drone hums away in the back­ground, and there’s some little psy­che­delic synth sounds here and there as well, but wed­ded to a pair­ing of female vocals and fin­ger­pick­ing gui­tar that wouldn’t be out of place on a mid-nineties Cur­rent 93 record.

I’ve made the com­par­ison before, but there’s a fair bit of par­al­lel with United Bible Stud­ies in this music, and com­ing from me that’s a big com­pli­ment. It’s prob­ably that com­pel­ling mix of folk influ­ences and psy­che­delic ele­ments with a very expans­ive, airy mood. Now that quibbles about lo-fi record­ing and rough per­form­ances are prac­tic­ally out of the way, I won’t hes­it­ate to recom­mend Eit­ar­nora and this album to all lov­ers of exper­i­mental and neo­folk.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Feet In The Earth (13:27)
2. Plains Dance (9:05)
3. The Grey Light (7:55)
4. You Are Mine (7:15)
5. Recit­ing (11:49)