Fursaxa Alone in the Dark Wood

[All Tomorrow's Parties; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: psych folk, freak folk
Others: Scores, Charalambides, Six Organs of Admittance

I can't help but think that the album title, Alone in the Dark Wood, sells the music much better than any analysis I could provide. I'd like to think we've all had the opportunity to listen to the sounds of the pitch-black, the wind rustling through the trees, the crickets harmonizing under the stars, the music of woodland creatures both real and imagined. Tara Burke continues to have her fingers on the pulse of these demented and disturbing sounds, yet no matter how much beauty she dares to breathe into the spectral, she has yet to fully capture the true essence of isolation amongst the wooded plain. Being from rural Pennsylvania, I'm sure Burke has immersed herself in the wonders of nature and, through Fursaxa, has explored her interpretations of these moments well, but Alone in the Dark Wood speaks only to a niche group with shared experiences. The album misses the mark by never capturing the allure of aimlessly wandering within the unknown. There are millions who will never live a moment away from city lights and gridded roads. Fursaxa transforms the sounds of the forest into nothing more than avant folk songs with lazy (albeit lush) atmospherics and jangled bits of bells and strings without capturing the black solitude of the night, selling Alone in the Dark Wood short. Choosing to shine a light through the darkness rather than clutching it tightly, Burke ends up with a batch of nice songs that sound like every other free-folkster amidst her stead. Fantasy has its place among Alone in the Dark Wood, but perhaps reality would serve as a much better muse.

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