Every once in a while, a record appears which is not of this world. This is not to say that it was delivered by aliens (unless we're going to talk about Elvis a little) or anything silly like that. It's more to the flavor of smaller outsiders who live in trees, subsist only on berries and the dew from leaves, and whose whole existence seems to be wrapped up in music and the enjoyment of it. If I had less pride, I would probably have simply said, "This is music for elves." Which is a ridiculous statement, but it's the truth.
Feathers (despite sharing some prominent members with doom-metal band Witch) create a strange, untrustworthy world where the music can often be lilting and oddly lovely ("Old Black Hat with a Dandelion Flower", "Silverleaves in the Air of Starseedlings"), but filled with the melodic sounds of capricious trickery ("Van Rat"), as well as touching tentatively towards the medieval past with tracks such as "To Each His Own." While detractors will complain that, with its weird lyrics and sometimes off-putting vocals, this album is fully immersed in the Modern Day Devendra Banhart School of Folk Music, they should be reminded of how few and far between albums such as Feathers really are. Banhart may have made whimsical folk music fashionable again, but this album has much more in common with the recent Tompkins Square release The Black Dove in terms of instrumentation than with Tyrannosaurus Rex's A Beard of Stars.
In fact, the only problem with this release is how immersed it is in the folk genre. For those who love folk and whimsy, this album will be akin to a gift from on high with its sweet cream guitars, plucking moonberry bells, and glossy green leaf voices. But for those rooted firmly in the present, with its electronic noises, frank sexuality, and rock & roll posturing, Feathers will be like a bucket of cold water poured over the head. It may melt the unwilling as if they were a wicked witch of the west, or like a baptism, Feathers will encourage the uninitiated into a holy ocean of starlit whimsy.
Reviewed by Megan Giddings