The Mildew Leaf
by The Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Tree
Deserted Village : DV7 : 2003
A charming mini-album of folk songs from Europes western islands, performed by wandering minstrels. Now available again as part of The Soup & The Shilling double CD.
Review by Keith Wallace
In times of cultural stress people tend to turn to either drugs (for oblivion) or folk music (for comfort), and people are doing a lot of both in Ireland right now. The recent unexpected economic boom and subsequent recession, rife political corruption and the influx of alienating technology (what’s lonelier than waiting for a mobile phone to ring?) has left a generation of rehabilitated indie-rockers delving into folksong to find some answers. It’s to these old forms that The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree have turned. Another transmission from the Deserted Village collective, “The Mildew Leaf” finds this mysterious Dublin-based trio perform eight new arrangements of ancient folk songs in Irish, English and French. “In aimsir bhaint an fheir” is joyous and uplifting, as warming as an old Planxty tune while the spooky atmospherics of “Le Bon Marain” are hard to shake once heard. The ethereal tones of the female vocalist lift “Is iomaidh coisceim fada” into a haunting sphere and the mini-album ends with “Time to go home” devolving into a freeform freakout in a Doors-esque “Horse Latitudes” kinda way. Re-investing forgotten folk songs with new blood, this is life affirming music, and there’s a pure essence to the songs here that cuts through any notions of a pseudo nu-folk revival or dilettantism. The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree are not simply dipping their toes in the ancient sea of song: they’ve dived right in. So should you.