Archive for July, 2016



Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

A collaboration between Liverpool based poet Helen Tookey and psych folk queen Sharron Kraus, ‘If You Put Out Your Hand’ is a truly beautiful and unique chapbook/ CD released on the wonderful Wounded Wolf Press label. All three elements suggests that this coming together of the written word and song will be something to be treasured; Tookey’s inaugural poetry collection ‘Missel-Child’ was shortlisted last year for the Seamus Heaney Centre for ‘Poetry Prize for First Full Collection’, Kraus has a multitude of essential wyrd folk albums and EPs that come very highly recommended indeed and publisher Wounded Wolf Press is known for its high quality and esoteric pressings, ranging from CD and book editions of work by Xenis Emputae Travelling Band’s Phil Legard to The Hogweed And The Aderyn’s recorded output (if you don’t know them do seek them out).

Influenced by ‘the natural world and our ways of responding to it’ the spoken word contributions on this album take their backdrop from rivers, hillsides and valleys as well as the landscape of nostalgia, memories and dreams. ‘Unadopted’ begins the album with quiet intent, Tookey’s voice perfectly framed by Kraus’s reverberated acoustic guitar. This swiftly moves into ‘Missel Child’ and its ‘Wicker Man’ style recorder and woodwind soundtracking the evocative and emotive opening lines ‘The lady of the moon is in travail, her white face waxen as the missel-fruit…’ Each individual piece is short but hugely effective and varied, additionally there is a sense of these verses being a series of connected vignettes. Kraus’s accompaniment is spare and quite perfect, each note resonates all the more powerfully and gracefully for its simplicity and it never overpowers the text but works with it to conjure further images of old gods and moonlit trees. Occasional vocal harmonies emerge over picked strings to create a real sense of something ancient, pagan and of the earth. Tookey’s verse is also pitched just right; it is descriptive but also immediate and particular highlights include the gentle gothic romanticism and blood letting of ‘In The Rose Garden’ (lovingly framed by Kraus’s bucolic and bewitching guitar), ‘Katherine’ (‘Katherine has been dead a week…’) with its spectral, wailing fluid strings and the magical and sacred ‘Rheidol Valley (Within A Semicircle)’, expertly set to ever increasing layers of bouzouki, finger cymbals and haunted harmonies. Aficionados of Paul Giovanni’s ‘The Wicker Man’ soundtrack, Faun Fables, Stone Breath and the rustic witchery of acid folk acts such as Forest, Comus and Stone Angel will find much to adore here.

Often spoken word recordings can be successful dependant on the mood of the listener and the familiarity of the text. Not so with this release, which serves and works in form as both poetry and music; the pieces simply flow like a stream, engaging but also with an ease to listen to and absorb. It may be the atmosphere that the interplay and weave and weft of both music and word helps to create, but this is a captivating and entrancing album which can be listened to as just that; an album. You can almost feel the breeze on your skin, the glow of the summer sun descending and the distant wail of sea birds as you close your eyes and let what you hear blanket you in something that is of the natural world, not of the bluster and noise of city life. This is hypnotic, essential, occasionally (and pleasingly) disquieting and ultimately affirming work; these pieces are filled with breath and with life.

The accompanying book is also a thing of beauty, featuring Tookey’s texts side by side with some lovely woodcuts and illustrations. As an overall package ‘If You Put Out Your Hand’ is one of those special and unusual finds that do not come along particularly often. Already selling out quickly, this is a must have.




Released in 2012, Alchemical Wanderings was British-born, South Korean resident David Suyeong´s first full-length, physical album, an eleven-part dromedary ride through a painted desert, a desert painted by Marc Chagall, the unceasing vinyl rustle a beaded curtain through which the music constantly passes. Its perfectly paced, muted consonance makes for one of the more mesmerizing ambient albums in recent years, calling to mind the heat of Robert Rich, the bell-ringing cold of Biosphere, the cerebral patience of Brian Eno, the heart of Oöphoi. Late in the record, a lengthy, stretched version of ´Silent Night´ (and deep behind it, ´The First Noël´) manifests itself like night-blooming jasmine. Sweet but not frivolous – Fescal´s elongated rendition is freighted with emotion and serves to create a space of familiarity in the foreign, bemusing landscape – a place in which you can see a version of yourself for a moment.

Wounded Wolf Press, a Turkish house that creates impeccably detailed books and records, has released this version of Alchemical Wandering as a double CD, featuring the original album plus a set of complementary remixes, both discs tucked snugly into a small, stiff manila sleeve upon which is affixed a medallion of refracting green, yellow and salmon shards by Romanian artist Georgiana Teseleanu. An additional handful of remixes (by among others Rapoon and Lost Trail) have been stored online and can be accessed via the enclosed download code.

´Alchemical Wanderings Afresh´ plays like the result of an unwitting game of exquisite corpse, a story written one line at a time by authors who haven´t been allowed to read what has been written before. A multifaceted but flowing narrative in which contributors including Keith Berry, Aidan Baker and Dirk Serries shape the air around the music more than the music itself, playing its currents like a violin.

What should long ago have been recognized as a precious ambient classic has grown even more prepossessing.




Wounded Wolf Press is een interessant en bovenal innovatief label dat door artiest/auteur Atay Ilgun en Efsun Ecem Uckardes wordt gerund. Ze brengen boeken, muziek en kunstobjecten uit. Uiterst intrigerend is nu de samenwerking tussen de Britse schrijfster/poëte Helen Tookey en haar muzikale landgenoot Sharron Kraus, die bekend is om haar vele folk releases zowel solo als in Rusalnaia, Silver Servants, Tau Emerald en Feather Gatheres plus haar samenwerkingsverbanden met The Iditarod, Meg Baird, Helena Espvall, Christian Kiefer, Harriet Earis en Michael Tanner. Op hun gezamenlijke werk If You Put Out Your Hand brengt Tookey middels spoken word 13 van haar gedichten ten gehore, die op pastorale wijze worden ingelijst door Kraus. Deze bijzondere combinatie pakt erg goed uit. Voor eenieder die geen spoken word door de muziek wil horen staan er tevens 13 instrumentale tracks op de cd met hier en daar de zang van Kraus, die ook naast de spoken word te horen was. Het fraaie boekwerk dat erbij zit bevat de teksten van de gedichten. Al met al dit werkelijk een overdonderend kleinood dat je nog lang zal heugen.


Wounded Wolf Press is an interesting and most innovative label run by artist / author Atay Ilgun and Efsun Ecem Uckardes. They bring books, music and art out. Most intriguing is the collaboration between the British writer / Poëte Helen Tookey and her musical compatriot Sharron Kraus, which is known for its many folk releases, both solo and in Rusalnaia, Silver Servants, Tau Emerald and Feather Gatheres plus her collaborations with The Iditarod, Meg Baird, Helen Espvall, Christian Kiefer, Harriet Earis and Michael Tanner. At their joint work If You Put Out Your Hand Tookey brings through spoken word 13 of her poems performed, which are in pastoral manner framed by Kraus. This particular combination turned out quite well. For anyone no spoken word through music want to hear, there are also 13 instrumental tracks on the CD with occasional vocals Kraus, who also will could be heard alongside the ghosts. The beautiful booklet that comes with it contains the texts of the poems. All in all this really an overwhelming jewel that you will remember.