Fearthainne – Knowing

coverKnowing is one of those albums that feels more than slightly inane to describe by its basic elements. Fearthainne has, with the most uncomplicated techniques, created an album so intensely charged with passion that it is far, far more than the sum of its parts. However, I really want people to hear this album, and since I doubt any of you are going to simply take my word for it when I say “it’s one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard all year, buy it,” I’ll endeavor to explain this whole by its fragments.

“Anamnesis” introduces the album with a trance-inducing oscillation of non-identifiable noises. It’s not a particularly interesting track on it’s own, but it’s stoic tone and a sampled voice speaking of memory and the relation between the body, intellect, and the world, establish a ritual space and introduce the themes of the album proper quite well. The heart of Knowing is this second, and last, song of the same title. It’s a nearly 45 minute sprawling journey, driven mostly by strummed acoustic guitars and the trade-offs between the male and female vocals. Less commonly, but just as vitally, a somberly bowed violin, dulcimer, and pounding, skin drums fill in the soundscape. The drumming, courtesy of Chet Scott from Blood of the Black Owl and Cycle of the Raven Talons, has an especially satisfyingly deep and hollow tone that resounds in the mind and heart long after the album has closed. The male vocals alternate between a plain singing and a deep, gravelly spoken voice. The female vocals have an airy, but not especially high voice that occasionally breaks from the lyrics to lift into wordless melody. The lyrics hold the same level of restraint and and candor as the compositions; composed almost entirely of plainly spoken questions that are absolutely heartbreaking in their honesty and sorrow over our loss of place in the same world we inhabit.  All of these elements are drawn together with a profound simplicity into this immense, mournful song, ever evolving and moving, running with quiet strength and certainty like the elk conjured in the first of the lyrics. This is no triumphant voyage however; the mood is solemn and funereal, fitting of questions like: “Can we live again after what’s been done?”
Composing a 40 minute song that remains not only interesting, but thoroughly engrossing through its entirety is an achievement in the first place, but when the musicians forgo electronic sorcery to entirely rely upon sung vocals and acoustic instrumentation, heavy with the scent of black earth and saturated moss, it becomes more impressive still. There’s a fundamental, primal beauty to this music that is remarkably unaffected. It needs to be heard to understand, though if you’ve heard any release from Glass Throat, you’ll know something of that feeling I’m referring to. Knowing is an intensely moving lament for our disconnection and homelessness in the modern world, everything we have lost, and everything we are still losing. But there’s something else in there too; buried deep below the wreckage and hidden below the desecrated soil, something small, but silently, cautiously spreading slender roots. -Jake

Glass Throat Recordings

~ by jakemoran on June 19, 2013.

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