Saturday 28 October 2023


Bands bringing a little rural colouring to their rock grooves is not a new phenomenon, back in the 70's bands like The Strawbs, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and even to some extent Wishbone Ash took traditional British folk music and mixed it with elements of psych and rock to create a sound that appealed to both the Aran jumper wearing folk traditionalists and the great coat wearing long haired rockers. When heavy metal took over from bluesy hard rock in the late 70's/early 80's the audiences for a more pastoral form of rock diminished but never really went away as the success of Jethro Tull's "Songs From the Wood" would attest to. Rural flavoured rock however didn't really have that much of an impact within the confines of our little underground scene until bands like Canada's Black Mountain and the UK's Wolf People started mixing elements of psych rock and folk together in more modernistic settings which in turn led many of us to discover bands like Finland's Hexvessel and Norway's Dunbarrow. Glasgow based duo Lucid SinsAndreas Jönsson (lead vocals, guitar bass, organ, synth) and Ruaraidh Sanachan (backing vocals), have with the help of some illustrious friends made an album that fits all the criteria so far mentioned, an album that blends elements of occult flavoured hard rock, pastoral psych and traditional folk in such a way as not to pander to any one demographic but that will appeal to all, the album (their third) is called "Dancing In The Dark" (Totem Cat Records) and it is a truly majestic and wonderous piece of work. 

Opening number "Jack Of Diamonds" utilizes the folk tradition of storytelling, this one telling a tale of  lustful manipulation and the consequences thereof, set to a backdrop of  lilting psychedelic tinted folk-rock that if it were not for its very clipped and different vocal tones could easily be mistaken for an outtake from an unreleased Wolf People album . "The Dance" follows and boasts an element of Green Lung like occult rockiness in its attack while "Take Me Back", featuring Dunbarrow's Espen Andersen on shared vocal duties and Stuart Coleman on Hammond organ, throws the listener completely off track by sounding like Booker T & The MG's jamming with cult American rockers Ashbury. "From The Bough" uses a fractured chord progression to hook it listeners in along with some nice keyboard flourishes, were there such a thing as proto-metal-lite then this would be a perfect fit for such a genre.  If "The Wicker Man" and "Midsommar" are movies that ignite the pagan in you then "Sanctuary Stone" is going to be right up your cult populated valley, guest Hanna Tuulikki's lilting vocal tones, backed by Sanachan on the songs chorus, evoke images of naked virgins singing and dancing around maypoles and white clad cultists applying burning torches to giant effigies. Next track "Call In The Dark" finds Lucid Sins toying with a little proto-doomic dynamics but nothing too heavy while "The Drifter", a homage to off grid living, is a little darker than what has passed up to this point, darker in both its musical execution and its vocals which are delivered slightly deeper and with less ethereality. For "Heavy Toll" Lucid Sins switch up and down between the occult swagger of bands like Green Lung and Sleepwulf and the ethereal folksiness that was once the mark of UK psychonauts Opel (check them out here). It's back to more traditional folk dynamics for "The Raven's Eye" before the band close things with the delightfully fey soft rocker "Catch The Wild" a song with a touch of radio friendly catchiness in its sonic makeup and which closes out with a killer clarinet solo courtesy of guest musician Alex Ward.

Acid folk, wicker rock, pastoral psych are just some terms that will be thrown Lucid Sins way and to be fair there are elements of all of them to be found on "Dancing In The Dark" Forget labels and tags though because what Lucid Sins deliver with their new album is just great music played with true heart and a real belief in what they do. 
Check 'em out ... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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