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Appendix Out | The Night is Advancing (Drag City)
With a debut single released on Palace Records, Appendix Out would seem to underline the truism that whatever happens in the US will sooner or later make its way to the UK. This is their third album for Drag City, but it would still be disingenuous to relate the beauty of The Night is Advancing without referencing Will Oldham. As much as Oldham has taken the vocabulary and images of Greil Marcus's old weird America(na) and given it a gothic, Slint-literate twist, Appendix Out do something similar for British folk forms to lonely and lovely, if sometimes unforgiving, effect. On The Seven Widows (The Sprigs of Night) Ali Roberts' high quaver of a voice sings of the forest recipe: "turpentine and camphor / royal spruce and cedar / bitter mandrake and nightshade," and Appendix Out concoct a kind of catatonic minstrel music. It's a feeling that's underlined in the mandolin and vocal incantation that introduces Golden Tablets of the Sun, before crystalline guitar picking and piano accents take over, giving melody and lightness to the inherent dirgelike inclinations of this mediaeval music. "Our ancestors slept / on pillows of stones / and lay together / on blankets of bone," Roberts sings on Year Waxing, Year Waning to the pounding of a drum and the ghostly choral chant of "smother the fire." And while this Wicker Man ambiance, uttered in hessian undergarments, may be as much of an affectation as any Nudie suit fixation, after the fascination with all things C&W in recent years it would be nice to think of a comparative groundswell to reinvent olde worlde UK folk music. But in the absence of jesters and Morris Men gracing the pages of i-D, Appendix Out are a stark and beautiful consolation.

Martin Williams
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001

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