Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Far Black Furlong - The East Room (2006)

artist: Far Black Fur­long
release: The East Room
format: MP3
year of release: 2006
label: Woven Wheat Whis­pers
dur­a­tion: 24:38

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

[Note: The remark about the M.R. James story in the second para­graph turned out to be incor­rect. There is actu­ally no such story, and it was appar­ently made up by Mark Coyle of the label in a flight of fancy.]

Far Black Fur­long is an Eng­lish exper­i­mental (folk) music pro­ject, with a vary­ing cast of musi­cians. The core mem­bers are pian­ist and com­poser Richard Moult, oboeist Mark Bai­gent, elec­tronic artist Andy Cot­ter­ill and gui­tar­ist Ian Teng­wall. Guest artist on this release, I assume on hurdy-gurdy, is Anne Marie Sum­mers of Miseri­cor­dia, among other medi­aeval ensembles.

The East Room, inspired by an appar­ently unfin­ished story by fam­ous Eng­lish scholar and writer M.R. James, is the third release by the band, after two pre­vi­ous EPs. Like the earlier releases, this one proves that Far Black Fur­long is a very inter­est­ing new­comer in the musical under­ground, oper­at­ing between folk, ambi­ent, clas­sical and medi­aeval music. More con­crete than the long sound­scapes of the pre­vi­ous EP Haidd, The East Room takes us to the mys­ter­i­ous cham­ber from the story in four move­ments.

Dur­ing these four instru­mental songs, dif­fer­ent instru­ments com­bine to cre­ate a rich musical depic­tion of the mys­ter­i­ous atmo­sphere that per­vades the theme of the album. Subtle touches of piano occur every­where, and often we hear sup­port of recorder, hurdy-gurdy, pipes, harp, and the exquis­ite sound of the oboe. These are trained musi­cians at work on untrod­den ground - one of the most innov­at­ive bands I’ve heard in quite some time. Ele­ments from medi­aeval and clas­sical music and folk are blen­ded in per­fectly with exper­i­ment­a­tion and impro­visa­tion to cre­ate some­thing unique. The music on this album is some­times calm (move­ment II and IIII) some­times threat­en­ing and intense (the mad gui­tar and pipes duet on III), but always mys­tic and atmo­spheric.

It’s not an easy job to describe exactly what’s going on in these 25 minutes, but I think it’s magical. If, by any chance, you have the John Bar­ley­corn Reborn com­pil­a­tion, be sure to play “The East Room V” after listen­ing to this, because it’s a bril­liant epi­logue to fin­ish off an already quite strong EP. This is one of the most impress­ive release I’ve heard lately, and I recom­mend every­one to go and check this out - I don’t think you’ll regret it! It’s only avail­able as an MP3 down­load from Woven Wheat Whis­pers, but it comes with a high-qual­ity book­let for home print­ing. Keep the name Far Black Fur­long in the back of your head, I’m sure a lot more beau­ti­ful music will come from this dir­ec­tion!

Reviewed by O.S.


1. The East Room I (7:03)
2. The East Room II (5:47)
3. The East Room III (5:15)
4. The East Room IIII (6:33)