Distributor/Label: Pesanta Urfolk
- Can’t Serve
- Sleeping Beira
- Began The Gears
- Glass Empire
- Winter Slolstice
- We Bring The Rain
Band Line Up:
Sammy Fielding – Vocals / Guitar / Feet Drums
Jorge Gallo – Guitar / Keyboards / Vocals
Rita Revere – Violin / Didgeridoo
Kaitlin McSweeney – Cello / Vocals
Taking folk and twisting it into something dark yet beautiful would sound like a tall order. This is exactly what Californian quartet Noctooa have managed to do though, and they’ve done it with some amount of style too. Originally starting out as a duet it was the addition of Rita Revere (Violin, Didgeridoo) and Kaitlin McSweeney (Cello, Vocals) that transformed an already progressive sound into a great one. The broader range of instruments and lighter tones compliment the guitar and keyboards of founder members Sammy Fielding and Jorge Gallo.
It’s Fielding’s deep droning vocals that you first notice on ‘Adaption’, coupled with a slow tempo beaten out by foot drums the immediate impression is that of something more native American Indian than folk. I guess in some ways the two are linked by the fact that the music of the indigenous Americans is at least as ancient as the origins of western style folk. The two are happy to walk side by side with Noctooa acting as guide.
Although slow and plodding the album never gets morose, quite the opposite in fact, it’s an uplifting work to listen to. Most of this is down to the arrangement and the way that the various instruments are allowed to thread their way in and out of songs. In particular ‘Slate’ with Fielding and McSweeney dueting on vocals is a symphonic folk masterpiece. Elsewhere the relatively upbeat ‘We Bring The Rain’ catches the ear by having a simple charm you can imagine wandering minstrels had centuries back.
While ‘Adaption’ will sooth the brow of dark music lovers at a reflective time it’s the very things that set it apart that some may find difficult to swallow. That droning voice never changes gear throughout the whole album. Neither does the tempo. What that means is that the only real variation is kept to quite a narrow path leaving the obvious criticism of repetitiveness. That said any faults are outweighed by the sheer originality of the compositions and the restrained and careful way each song is put together. Noctooa may never end up in the spotlights of the famous but with ‘Adaption’ they have given music in the shadows a soul.
Review by Gary Trueman