Cold and damp January days require an appropriately melancholic soundtrack and I've recently been enjoying Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails by a new find, Sharron Kraus. Sparse and, dare I say, ethereal, the album is inspired by the landscape of the Elan Valley in Mid-Wales, a place to which Kraus regularly returns and feels a longing for whenever she is away: hence the naming of the first track, Hiraeth, the beautiful Welsh word for the call of the land. Of recording the album in the valley, Kraus states that "I feel like I've travelled back in time - into my own memories and into the past - or into a land of faery". The titles of the other tracks, some including field recordings of birds, streams, waterfalls, wind and rain, continue this sense of place and memory:
Y Fari Lwyd
According to Kraus' web site, "As well as drawing on the folk traditions of England and Appalachia, her music is influenced by gothic literature, surrealism, myth and magick". Alongside another current folk favourite similarly inspired by the landscape and folklore of rural, upland Wales, Tincian by 9Bach, this sounds good to me. I look forward to discovering more of these sounds - of dulcimer, drone, recorder and harp - with echoes of the American psych-folk of the likes of Espers and Richard Skelton's and Autumn Richardson's landscape-inspired music, words and imagery.