Plugs

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Record Review

by Rudi Dornemann

The Cloud-Veil’d Moon: Eileen and Gemma Darwater (1977)

4 out of 5 stars

Just a few years after Led Zepplin issued an album with mystic runes for a cover and bands like Black Sabbath launched careers around dark, occult themes, the Darwater sisters set up their amps and instruments in a fairy ring somewhere in on the moors of Devon. Or so goes the copy on the back of their first and only LP, The Cloud-Veil’d Moon. No doubt it was all the fancy of some A&R man who’d read too much Tolkien, but it was nice to see someone conjuring up a gentler version of the magical.
The album itself is best described as eccentric. An eccentric selection of folk standards, pop-song covers and what are apparently folk-inspired originals, arranged eccentrically (in time signatures that seem to shift with every other measure), and played on the most eccentric collection of instruments (if the liner notes are to be believed, which takes some effort on this reviewer’s part).

For example, tracks 3 and 10 feature a percussion instrument called the “Doord” which is described as “a broad stone played by two trolls alternately and rhythmically striking their skulls upon either side.” What exactly the “Doord Grande” (track 7) is, we aren’t told, but it certainly fills up the bottom end of the mix. Internet discussions still rage as to whether the harp heard on several of the songs is actually a carefully recorded duet or the result of even more careful tape-splicing. A few holdouts do insist that these are, in fact, recordings of a single harpist with twelve unusually long fingers, but this seems unlikely.

Adding to the album’s mystique are the mysterious guest appearances, including backing vocals on the cover of Dylan’s “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” which are attributed to a “Mr. Nicholas D., who traveled a very great distance to join us on this track.” The listener is apparently meant to guess that this is none other than Nick Drake, and it certainly sounds like Drake, except that he was dead for three years at the time the song was recorded.

Whatever the strangeness of the record, and in spite of the record company’s attempt (successful, certainly) to create a mystique around the sisters and their band, there’s no question that the Darwaters recorded a catchy set of tunes. After several hundred listens, I still can’t say I like the music, but neither can I put anything else on my stereo that doesn’t sound trite and ordinary in comparison.

It is a pity that the Darwaters only recorded this single album before disappearing for nearly twenty years. In May of ’78, Gemma was quoted in the NME as saying they were going to tour extensively “down under,” but no documentation of an Australian tour has ever been found. So The Cloud Veil’d Moon remains the only available recording by this promising enigma — at least until someone makes a bootleg available of last year’s already legendary surprise appearance at Tokyo’s Budokan arena.

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One Response to “Record Review”

  1. Rudi Says:

    October 2nd, 2007 at 11:50 am

    The author would like to thank Mr. Robert Schenk for an introduction to the doord, particularly in relation to the early works of Clannad.