Despite only playing a handful of gigs since their inception, Dublin’s Fern Floor garnered enough of a buzz in their initial months of being that quite a few heads in the local scene would turn when this, their first release, Elder emerged from the undergrowth. Released by the endlessly busy Fort Evil Fruit tape label, Fern Floor’s cassette offering is a heady dose of solemnly beautiful folk, inflected with a vintage flavour that recalls many of the 70s progged out folk.
Featuring member of Wreck of the Hesperus, Sodb and Council of Tanith, there’s actually nothing of the sort to suggest that such membership exists. Much unlike the sickly gloom of Wreck of the Hesperus or Sodb’s ritualistic and hypnotic black metal, Fern Floor are an exercise in amorous and unabashed exuberance. There are myriad instruments and voices at play within these six beautiful compositions that, while peaceful in nature, there’s still a frank unknowingness of what’s around the corner.
Sprightly guitars open the proceedings on the lush Anchors, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere immediately, with serene vocal harmonies and prancing guitars and keyboards. It’s a cliché but these songs really evoke a different world, one totally at odds with the often chaotic music made elsewhere by its creators. Anchors soon washes away and begins to bubble again with the sublimely beautiful Anneleis, an undeniable standout moment of this tape. Hypnotic pipes give way to an almost melancholic vibe with sumptuous vocals and thick pervasive basslines creeping along underneath but soon it all begins to morph into a verdant, ebullient close.
There are many elements at play within Fern Floor that it’s so multi-layered and evocative, revealing a new side of itself with each listen. Let Lie sees the vocals of Emer Brady enter, who counteracts the previous vocal deliveries; again creating that sense of unknowingness to creep in again, as the chiming Cartoon Moon will prove again. Tightrope’s lullabies will, with ease, coast you into some serene and tranquil landscapes but the mood is once more combated, this time by the seven minute closer, Head of Gas, Heart of Oil, a staggeringly ambitious tune by any measure, distilling all of Fern Floor’s strengths is a sprawling oeuvre to draw the curtains on this EP that’s just simply too short. Its 29 minutes pass like a summer’s breeze.
Elder is available from Fort Evil Fruit.