Dark Woven Light by Fool's GhostRelease date: March 20, 2020
Label: Prosthetic Records
There is a great skill to being heavy without being loud and Kentucky husband and wife duo Amber and Nick Thieneman have made it seem easy on debut album Dark Woven Light. Fool’s Ghost pours from the soul with hypnotic vocals and meaningful lyrics on a bed of minimalist instrumentation as they create 10 tracks which weigh on the listener without ever burdening.
To tag this to a singular genre is going to be impossible, it is too dark to be called folk, it is never quite heavy enough to be post-rock, and it is too experimental to be indie. I can only really try and express the darkness and weight that each track holds. Generally the music will have a moment to build before the vocals kick in and there are some superb hooks to get your attention and it is never the same. The guitar intro to ‘Touch’ is effectively catchy and I found myself peering through the layers to try and hear more of it before it emerged unchanged at the closing of the track. More frequently it is atmospheric synths or keys that lead the progression of a song with the guitar playing a side role such as the gripping ‘Fugue’ and even a mildly strong drum beat in ‘Chasing Time’ swats at the ground where the guitar once was.
The focus and strength in the album is most definitely the vocals and the range and expression really takes the tracks on journeys to some dark places and leaves the music to paint the background. I find it almost similar to early racing computer games which generated the landscape as you drove along, the voice, like the race car, is the constant main focus and the rest moves around that. There is everything from keys, synths, guitar, drums, piano and glockenspiel but none come close to the vocals, but one without the other wouldn’t give the powerful results you get here.
Throughout the album there is always a bubbling sense of needing to release. There is almost a restraint to the vocals but the mask temporary slips during ‘Sparked’ and ‘Shut Away’ as a partial release seems guaranteed when the volume is increased, but it is all momentary. Whilst Thieneman certainly has the ability to belt out a chorus the music never ventures into this territory. Like a Sunday morning hangover the music lingers in an area of mild depression with hope tinged glimmers but sometimes you just can’t shift the gloom.
Although minimalist in its layout Dark Woven Light is heavy in execution. To listen to any of the tracks and not feel any emotional outgoing would be deeply worrying. It can be a beautiful feeling to be so weighed down with the melancholy but then feel it lifting as each song progresses to its conclusion, it just keeps me going back for more.