Album Review

Black Happy Day – “In The Garden of Ghostflowers ” – [Silber Records]

Max Level   9/3/2006   A Library, CD

Black Happy Day does seem a perfect name for this duo. Tara Vanflower and Timothy Renner perform a handful of traditional folk songs, hymns, and dirges along with seven of their own compositions. Otherwordly vocals and production effects -sometimes subtle, sometimes not- color the material. Old, religiously-themed songs are accompanied by simply-played acoustic instruments such as guitar, banjo, and dulcimer, then displayed in settings of overdubbed vocals, loops, and some eerie sound processing. Vanflower’s vocals cover a lot of bases, from angelic (#2) to bluesy like Billie Holiday (#3) to the haunted wail of the dead (#6). Renner tends to keep his voice low and gravelly, providing a nice contrast to hers. Ear-catchers for me: #8 uses a backwards tamboura sound for a cool drone effect. On #9, the juxtaposition of two simultaneous spoken word parts over a noisy watery background is quite disturbing, after which the track moves into a calm guitar-based piece. #10 is a charming acoustic duet. I love this CD.

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