Words by Grey Malkin
Dark Leaves, the autumnal and haunting vehicle for the muse of Penzance’s Patrick Aston, has already gifted a singularly effective and enduring debut album ‘Grey Stone in the Wood’, a spectral and affecting tableaux of woodland folk. Reviewing that release for MOOF Magazine, this listener was reminded of the gentle yet powerful work of such luminaries as In Gowan Ring, Stone Breath and Angels of Light. With this new EP, ‘Forest Flowing’, Aston further explores and develops his hushed yet evocative travels into acoustic forays, framed by the most subtle, cobwebbed strings and keyboards.
Opener ‘Forest Flowing’ begins with pensive finger picking and an air of quiet solitude, before being joined by a brushed drumbeat and a melancholy wash of strings. Descriptive and widescreen, this music tells stories, tales of forest paths and wanders by the moon’s lamplight. Indeed, Dark Leaves’ acoustic slivers of dark psych and folk are perhaps best heard upon such traverses, across the deepening shadows of the hills at the setting of the sun, far from home and alone. Next, ‘Fast Wears The Night’ seems to shimmer and float upon tabla beats and waves of synth, Aston’s guitar providing a reliable anchor for a song tinged with shades of both regret and mystery. A woodwind refrain swirls skywards as the music breaks, before the journey continues into the gathering dusk. Loaded with atmosphere, this may well be Dark Leaves most powerful offering to date, however that accolade is potentially and rapidly challenged by finale ‘The Rooks’, a brooding and gentle epic that lifts and soars before retreating, only to edge ever upwards again; the haunted ebb and flow of Aston’s intimate and emotive voice framed by an orchestral sweep of strings and taught and tense guitar refrains.
For those who immersed themselves in the haunted groves and copses of ‘Grey Stone in the Wood’, ‘Forest Flowing’ will be essential listening. For others, this will be a welcome pathway into the moonlit and woodland world of Dark Leaves.
Forest Flowing was released on 7th May 2020 and is available to purchase digitally here
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