Any album by the Faun Fables is not for the faint of heart or the uninquisitive mind. And so it is with their latest release, Light Of A Vaster Dark, which comes out next month on the Drag City label. Their sound can best be described as a fusion of modern production with earthy medieval folk legends. It probably comes down as folk music but from an odd perspective. I was even reminded of Gregorian Chants in a few places.
The group’s name sheds light on their approach to music. Faun is defined as a rustic god or place spirit of Roman mythology. A fable is a story that features animals, mythological creatures, plants, and forces of nature. Set the two definitions to music and there you have it.
The group is comprised of singer/songwriter/guitarist Dawn McCarthy and guitarist Nils Frykdahl. They are supported by electric percussionist & violinist Meredith Yayanos, multi-instrumentalist Kirana Peyton, bass clarinetist & flutist Cornelius Boots, and harmonica player Mark Stikman. It all adds up to an eclectic swirl of sound which is heavy on the strings in many places. McCarthy’s strong voice asserts itself above the mix.
Their latest album is built around the themes of light and darkness as revealed in the seasons of life. To explore this theme, she constructs four suites of songs with short introductions to each part. While the music is intricate and well produced, McCarthy is at heart a storyteller and the music ultimately revolves around the presentations of her imaginative stories. The images are vivid and well laid out, but be prepared to take a trip down the rabbit hole as they are flights of fancy and fantasy.
The melodies themselves are both complex and simple in places but demand your attention as the music takes some strange turns. The instruments tend to mingle and then separate. The sound is not always straightforward but is always interesting.
Light Of A Vaster Dark is the sixth release by The Faun Fables and continues the evolution of their approach to the musical world. It is playful, mesmerizing, odd and thoughtful, but always entertaining. Who knows what delights are to come in the future from the fertile and imaginative mind of Dawn McCarthy?