EP Review: Brave New World – S/T

Words by Grey Malkin

Brave New World have been working creatively and consistently within the psych folk scene for the last six years, issuing two EPs (the excellent Alice and Brave New World) alongside tracks for compilations by the esteemed likes of Fruits Der Mer. Comprised currently of multi-instrumentalist Chris Twigger, his daughter Lydia on vocals, vocalist, guitarist and producer Dewi Thompson, Rob May on bass and Jenny Lynch Lewis on backing vocals, the band have recently issued a further three track self-titled lathe cut vinyl EP on the Future Grave label (an offshoot of the splendid Reverb Worship imprint).

Maintaining a determined and admirable old school approach, these three songs come without download codes or the like, and will only be available (as was traditionally the case in years gone by) on the vinyl release itself. An air of mystery hangs over the band, the sleeve’s minimalist print artwork is striking but gives nothing away about the faces behind the music contained herein, which only adds to the spectral and timeless sense or quality that the EP generates.

‘Broken’ is a delicate, gossamer web of a song, an eerie descending organ and finger picked acoustic motif leading into a bewitching and hypnotic vocal by Lydia Twigger (who also penned the track) with father Chris providing all of the instrumentation in this instance. Reminiscent of such luminaries from the hazy early 70’s acid folk heyday as Mandy Morton’s Spriguns and Stone Angel/Midwinter as well as more recent travellers such as Candidate and Joker’s Daughter, this is a haunted and beautiful incantation, a finely constructed slice of spellcraft that follows the listener like a welcome ghost long after the song has ended. One could easily imagine these dynamic yet ominous harmonies floating through the world of The Wicker Man, on Summerisle itself; there is a distinctly sepia-hued and rustically pagan quality to ‘Broken’. Which conveniently leads us to the EP highlight ‘The Laddie’, a song written as a soundtrack of sorts with that film’s follow up in mind, that of ‘The Wicker Tree’. Originally released as a one-track lathe cut along with Tarot cards, incense and other occult accompaniments, this new remixed version now has Lydia on vocals and is veritable psych folk gold, a masterclass in unsettling beauty. Opening with birdsong and processionary acoustic guitars, the track layers with details such as trumpet calls, analogue synth ornamentation, field recordings and slide guitar, each sparingly used to adorn and add a gorgeous unease. The central and glorious melody (ably and beautifully sung) is however left welcomingly dominant and to the fore; it is this that will play throughout your dreams and into your waking hours. Occasional glimpses of darkness and threatening shadows are revealed to indicate that things may not end particularly well for said Laddie, but then as we know, the crops must be fed and renewed. The song’s first half culminates with a ceremonial group-led chorus and sudden bursts of electric guitar, amidst strident and ritualistic percussion, crowd noise and a scream, before the initial melody re-enters, the sacrifice assumingly have been made.

An assured and truly haunting piece of wyrd folk, the EP is worth the price of admission for this track alone. However, and gladly, there are three jewels present here, and the final track ‘Harmonics’ is a pleasingly melancholic piece of acoustic introspection, with subtle chamber folk accompaniment. An organ interlude flows like tears between the verses, the sadness tangible but comforting and warm in its gentle refrains. At the EP’s conclusion, we are left with a sense of three songs with differing intents, airs and qualities, but all equally emotive, commanding and powerful.

Brave New World then, offer us an EP that may be shrouded in mystery and intrigue, but which lets the songs themselves be the focus and the story. And these tales are ones that you will return to again and again, ageless and expertly crafted. A genuine treasure; highly recommended.

‘Brave New World’ is available here from Future Grave as a limited-edition lathe cut 10” vinyl. Make haste!

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