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Henry The Rabbit, Béatrice Morel-Journel & Semay Wu – Songs Of The Marsh

The last we heard of French singer Béatrice Morel-Journel was on the quite brilliant 2014 Tara King th. and Halasan Bazar collaboration 8, that album’s noir cinematics, 60s psych and baroque-pop capped with the accomplished flautist’s smoky vocals. Label-mate Henry The Rabbit, aka Craig Martin Wood – the Halasan Bazar drummer, in turn makes creaky, score-ready and intimate folk music, the Copenhagen-based musician’s minimal melodies drawn from his plucked, “psychedelic ukulele skiffle”. Dutch cellist Semay Wu here adds sombre multi-tracking and together, Songs Of The Marsh was, perhaps somewhat irrelevantly, written as a homage to “the late period in the life of Vincent Van Gogh”, the track titles drawn from the names of some of his paintings.

The ten tracks that follow in just under 30 minutes have something of the Warren Ellis soundtrack to them in any case thanks to Wu’s mournful, scraped strings and Journel’s fluttering woodwind. Martin Wood’s picked ukulele casts a chilly, spooky mist over proceedings one-minute (“Lever de Lune (Meules)”), a more rinky-dink playfulness the next (“Étude d’Oliviers”). Journel’s choral harmonies decorate the jaunty plucking, giving it a wistful, bucolic feel, while the high-end patterning of “Oliviers” lands a Balkan music-box vibe.

It would be hard enough to mix these disparate elements into something compelling in the same studio let alone with cross-Europe file sharing so Songs Of The Marsh’s seamless flexing of these talents is doubly impressive, a track like “Étude de Nuit” bringing everything together in pure celebration. And, no matter the influence, art imitating art may be the celebration we all need in the coming months.

Best track: “Étude de Nuit”

~Songs Of The Marsh is out now via Moon Glyph.~

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