|Time Takes Away|
Rusalnaia — Time Takes Away (July 15, 2016)ι•ιι Sharron Kraus is a singer, musician and songwriter who both defiantly recasts and tenderly cherishes the folk traditions of England and Appalachia. Her songs tell intricate tales of rootless souls, dark secrets and earthy joys, the lyrics plucked as sonorously as her acoustic guitar.
Location: Sheffield, UK
Album release: July 15, 2016
Record Label: Cambrian Records and Limited Edition LP by Feeding Tube Records.
1. Cast A Spell 4:45
2. Take Me Back 2:48
3. Driving 3:44
4. The Love I Want 4:04
5. The Beast 4:12
6. The Honeymoon is Over 5:39
7. Bright Things 3:11
8. Lullaby (For a Future Generation) 6:32
9. Time Takes Away 4:04
ι•ιι Sharron Kraus: Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, recorders, autoharp, fiddle wails
ι•ιι Gillian Chadwick: Vocals, electric guitars
ι•ιι Mark Wilden: Drums
ι•ιι Ivor Davies, Moni Sheehan: Backing vocals on ‘Cast A Spell’
ι•ιι Recorded by Michael Tanner and Sharron Kraus at the Old Vicarage, Ysbyty Cynfyn.
ι•ιι Mixed by Mark Wilden at Concourse Audio.
ι•ιι Mastered by Antony Ryan.
written by Thomas Blake 19 July, 2016
Ξ•Ξ Rusalnaia began life in 2008 when Sharron Kraus began working with her then neighbour, Gillian Chadwick, in Fishtown, Philadelphia. Their debut release was an eerie, eldritch affair, that went under the broad banner of ‘pagan folk’. Eight years later, and we are finally treated to a follow~up. This time recorded in Wales, where Kraus lived for a number of years. With Michael Tanner of Plinth and United Bible Studies at the helm, it is a heavier, headier brew, dealing with more specific and personal lyrical concerns — notably the break~up of the American musical community that nourished both artists.
Ξ•Ξ Despite the obvious differences between Time Takes Away and its predecessor, the duo have lost none of the earthy and at times joyful femininity that characterised that first record — think Mellow Candle meets Comus. The first track here, Cast A Spell, is a thrilling incantation that erupts into an intense psych~rock freakout. The distinctly, gleefully feminine slant on what often seems to be a male~dominated sub~genre is evidence of the musical confidence these two possess. It is a bold statement of intent.
Ξ•Ξ In fact, the album is chock~full of such statements. The gentle pastoralia and beautiful vocal interplay of Take Me Back is darkened by booming percussion that sounds uncannily like Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (the piece made famous by 2001: A Space Odyssey). Driving, with its fittingly propulsive rhythm and liquid lead guitar, proves they can do melody as well as mood, and The Love I Want is potent, pungent folk~rock in the Espers vein, full of haunting whistles and spiralling vocals.
Ξ•Ξ The Beast is a fuzzy, chugging psych~rocker, elevated by the doubled~up lead vocal, and in fact it soon becomes apparent that Kraus and Chadwick’s singing — constantly pitched between struggle and complement — is the factor that gives this album much of its startling beauty. The Honeymoon Is Over becomes a languid pagan rite, and Bright Things‘ simplicity is leant an air of vague threat by vocals that stay just on the right side of strident.
Ξ•Ξ One of the least immediate but ultimately most satisfying moments is Lullaby (For A Future Generation), a soothing swirl with a barely tangible hint of darkness. But the sweetest melody is that of the title track, which rounds the album off on a note of hope. Ostensibly a piece of indie~folk whimsy, the duo’s unconventional choice of instrumentation kicks it into Incredible String Band territory, and in fact there is something ISB~like in the structure of the record as a whole, thanks in no small part to the dual dynamic that Chadwick and Kraus bring to proceedings. This is music that celebrates and is born out of friendship, and as such is a testament to the aesthetic and moral benefits of collaborative creativity. Its very originality makes it difficult to categorise, so I will just say that it is one of the most stunning albums I have heard all year, and one whose power remains long after the songs have faded.
Bill Meyer, Dusted
ι•ιι “I Put A Spell on You,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins proclaimed, but he was just fronting compared to Rusalnaia. Gillian Chadwick and Sharron Kraus launch this album with a genuine incantation, chanting words that will bring a lover close but not too close. But after you get past the moons on the record sleeve and the spell within, these witches express disarmingly ordinary concerns. They sing about love and separation, addressing the universal travails of romance but also the circumstances that put nine years between Time Takes Away and its predecessor; lines like “A thousand miles lie between the cruel time of our parting” are freighted with personal meaning when you consider that currently Chadwick lives in Philadelphia PA and Kraus in Sheffield UK.
ι•ιι The necessity to fly back and forth means that the LP was recorded in 2011 in Wales, mixed three years later in London, was released on CD by Cambrian Records in 2016 and on LP by Feeding Tube in 2017. But while the passage of time became the album’s theme, it seems not to have hurt it. The performances feel immediate, the arrangements neither threadbare nor overdone. The duo’s vocal chemistry is fluid, shifting between close harmony and intricately woven counterpoint. Electric guitars and a drum kit add a muscularity that differentiates record from its eponymous predecessor, which is mostly acoustic.
ι•ιι The songs themselves make it hard to stuff this record into any temporal cubbyhole. The briskly paced “Driving” splits the difference between Fairport Convention in 1968 and Can in 1970, but other songs contain sonic artifacts that span decades. Kraus’s recorder invests “Take Me Back” with an air of antiquity, but the boxed~in drum sounds on “The Love I Want” and “Bright Things” signal that this record was probably recorded and mixed using computers. And the lyrics shuttle between the age of dragons and the age of motorways as though there was nothing keeping them apart.
|Time Takes Away|