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Dead Raven Choir - Selenoclast Wolves [God is Myth records/ Cold spring - 2006]

Selenoclast Wolves is split neatly in tow, the first half is all new material  very much in a dark/ difficult avant folk state and claiming to be his last acoustic material. The second half of the disk is reissue and remastering of early Lesbian Corpse Wolves, which is probably as approachable to normal ears as Smolken has got  with Dead Raven choir or his other projects, introducing more traditional/ tuneful melodies and sang female vocals.

For the first half all the trade mark Dark Raven Choir elements are in place: stop/start discordant acoustic guitars, sinister cello air and throb and of course smolkenís unequal vocals/ spoken word sounding like a cross between a sinister count and a demented actor spouting strange mildew/gloom heavy texts, and of course silence which always plays a big part in the feeling of dread and atmosphere here. A few of my favourite moments from the first half  would be Irrlichter with itís slow stepping piano dread and cello saw, Smolken whispers creepy foreign tongue dialogue over the top. Bringing to mind creaking stone crypts and sinister gothic architecture licked by blood and lichen. I Am Not A Recluse which is a bizarre gitar/ banjo type strum & chug, with Smolken angrily ranting over the top about ripping his wifeís head off & stamping on Childrens testicles ?! Yes itís as disturbing, bizarre and darkly comical as that.

The second half is really very approachable and 'normal' in places, opening with Funeral Monument Of A Young Girl with it's drunken strum, smolken ohhís and haunted gutsy female vocals. Coming off like demented wrong sounding gypsy music or dark Spanish strum gone bad, but at itís depth itís almost merlodic too. This approachable feel and structure is at itís height on The Courtesan with a wondering doomy come blues touched acoustic strum like black demented delta- blues music born from fog hazed swamps. Once more the rather pleasant and mournful haunted female vocals are used , you can just about hum along to this as well as it keeps fairly constent with itís structure and melody. The whole of the second half does have quite a few thematic and instrumental nods towards American music be it ; the blues, weird Broadway songs gone doom, or dusty desert country twangs.

A fine entry point to the strange, horrific and darkly humorous world of Mr Smolken.  For those already familiar with the mans work this is as good as anything else heís released, nicely balance bleak discordance, tuneful wisps of dark melody, theatrical darkness and atmosphere you could cut with a knife.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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