4000Records is a label in Brisbane/Meanjin, championing local acts, and one of their latest releases is from fhae. EllenaRamsay is fhae, and the album sombrethorax, an ambient folk and experimental offering.
The first track “soul” is hazy and almost a religious experience that floats with the vocals not necessarily the focus but rather an added tone that stirs within your chest. There is the gentle guitar in “body” strumming in a soundscape of echoes or the mellow, yet ghost like “drain” that slowly trickles past your senses.
The track “loveyou” is simply electrifying with the stringed instruments in the background while Ramsey’s vocals gorgeously ring through, stunning you into submission through the exposed beauty. It leads into the equally sweet “earth” with its multi-layered vocal track, creating a perfect choir . You can feel the building urgency in the instrumental track “emergency” or be immersed in the languidly moving “disappoint“.
In all, there are twelve tracks, with a few instrumentals in the mix. I can see why there are comparisons to the legendary CocteauTwins due to Ramsey’s dreamy and honeyed singing, very much in the vein of ElizabethFrazer. The music of sombrethorax feels as delicate as spiderwebs and entwined with fhae’s vocals of such elegance…. enough to invoke goosebumps in an angelic folk driven extasy.
Autumn Tears is a name from the 90s, synonymous with gothic music inspired by classical/traditional styles and they have married a split album, Widowing/Possessing, with the newer dark folk project, Zeresh. TedTringo is the man who has continuously been at the helm of the US band, Autumn Tears since 1995, which has picked up steam in the creation of new music in the last few years. Zeresh is Israeli musician, Tamar Singer, who also sings for Autumn Tears, so it seems quite natural for these two projects to share a split album. Windowing is the Autumn Tears half and it has pulled together musicians who play traditional instruments and vocalists of such a high caliber, so the tracks are rich, ethereal and romantically dark. Possessing is of course Zeresh, and it weighs more in your heart, an overwhelming sadness and torment. The instruments are often far more modern in this production but just as eerie and beautiful as Widowing. You can hear the Singer’s homeland influencing the undercurrent of the songs and the sound of the music.
So, we bring to you an interview in two acts. We we very luck to interview Ted and Tamar about their respective bands, their influences and above all the split album. If you love Dead Can Dance or remember the 90s, when Arcana, Lycia and Autumn Tears were the medieval babes of the scene, you should indulge in this offering of Widowing/Possessing and read on!
ACT 1 – AUTUMN TEARS
Greetings to Onyx’s dark side of life and the winter garden, Ted Tringo of Autumn Tears.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate the opportunity 🙂
Autumn Tears has been around in different forms since 1995, with you as the permanent founding member. Did you think Autumn Tears would still be around, creating music and the and still this popular, more than quarter of a century later?
Honestly I had always planned on it as once I began Autumn Tears in 1995, I envisioned it being around for decades. What I had not anticipated was the long 11 year hiatus that I took from 2007 until 2018. Thankfully that is in the past and I don’t plan on ever stopping again.
You released the albums “Colors Hidden Within The Gray” (2019), “The Air Below The Water” (2020) and “The Glow of Desperation” (2021) in very quick succession. Each of these were very highly involved albums as far as people contributing their talents and orchestration. What prompted this surge of creativity?
I think most of it stems from the bottled up creativity I had stored from the 11 years which I was not active. I had a lot of time to reflect and to study music, that in the event of a comeback, I would be more than prepared with ideas and the musical knowledge to give Autumn Tears all that I could.
It was the 2020 album, “The Air Below The Water”, that first saw you collaborating with Tamar Singer. How did you first come into contact Singer?
I first discovered Tamar and Zeresh when I was asked to take part in the ‘At Sea Compilations’ – “Snowflakes”. We both shared songs on the comp and as soon as I heard Zeresh, I knew Tamar had a very unique and special sound which I felt would be a wonderful addition to the Autumn Tears ever evolving sound.
Singer also performs under the name of Zeresh and this year, Autumn Tears and Zeresh released a split album together. What was the thinking behind this and who first suggested this joint operation?
I actually suggested this to Tamar a few years back. I was completely taken with Zeresh upon my first listen and have become a fan ever since. I felt a split release would be a great way to share our collective works with our respective fans and let them experience music from both of our projects. I’v always enjoyed split releases so this was a great experience to be able to be a part of one together with another music project that I love.
Autumn Tears is on the first half and it is called “Widowing” which is also the seventh track on the split, that features Singer. Why did you choose this as the title track and does it have any particular significance for you?
The significance of the title ‘Widowing” is about loss and acceptance, and I felt that having Tamar sing on the title track was important as It not only bridges the gap between the two releases, being the last song on the Autumn Tears EP, but also it flows right into the first Zeresh track having Tamar be the lead singer on both songs back to back.
You have access to all these gorgeous female and male vocals. How do you ever choose who sings what and how lucky do you feel having access to such talent?
Some of them I sought out and some I was already familiar with. Caroline and Darren Clarke from the acoustic opera duo Trovatori I discovered on Fiverr and they have been permanent members ever since, of which I am very grateful for. I also discovered Ffion Elisa on Fiverr as well. Dawn I have known for over 20 years having been the lead singer for Rain Fell Within who were signed to my label back then so my appreciation for her is a given. Of course Agnete from Madder Mortem and Ann-Mari from ex The Third and the Mortal were both long time favorites of mine so I am very thankful for their appearances.
Again, there has been many musicians you have collaborated with to create “Widowing”. I was wondering about how you ended up recording this album, as I can imagine Covid would have played havoc with your plans?
Well like many musicians nowadays, thankfully Autumn Tears has also benefited from the power of the internet and of remote recording. It of course makes everything possible with all of the different members living all over the world.
There are very heavy accents of middle eastern influence, like in “Of Sun, Sky and Rain”. Is this a style of music you particularly enjoy or find enhances the exotic flavour of your music?
It’’s actually both. I have always enjoyed Middle Eastern music, and having Soroush Abedi as a member of Autumn Tears, he is very skilled in many musical styles and able to authentically incorporate the Middle Eastern and instruments into the Autumn Tears style to create a very unique fusion which I think only helps to enhance our overall sound and diversity.
For me, “Bringer Of Balance” is just spine tingling with the entwined male and female vocals in an almost baroque style. Do you have a favourite track off this album?
Thank you so much! I am sure lead singer Darren will be very happy to read this. It is hard for me to pick a favorite as I enjoy them all very much, but I think I may still have a soft spot for the title track ‘Widowing’ as it encompasses the feel of the album as a whole. Of course if you ask me tomorrow, I may have a different favorite ;).
Even though bands like Dead Can Dance had started in the 80s, it was really in the 90s that medieval/classical gothic styled music really took off. You are still producing that style today, however to my ears, it is much more refined and cohesive. Do you feel this way about your music now as compared to the original albums?
That was always my goal with Autumn Tears. I will always appreciate the early sound we developed back in the 90s, however it was always my goal to mature Autumn Tears with real classical instruments and musical style to hopefully one day try and carve out our own sound. Hopefully we are aa little closer to doing so now 27 years later. 🙂
I am curious as to who were your inspirations in music when you first started and if there are any newer loves you have now?
Back in the 90s when I began, my influences ranged from DCD, to Stoa, Anchorage and Arcana, (Arcana’s – ‘The Song of Mourning’ actually helped to kick start my desire to write Autumn Tears music) and now I think I am more influenced by modern and traditional classical music as well as cinematic score and soundtracks. I think I will keep evolving the styles while still retaining our core sound.
If you could choose any musician to record with (alive or expired) for the next album, whom would you desire and why?
There are so many I admire that I would love to work with but if I had to choose one, I would have loved to collaborate with Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. I actually dedicated the 2019 album ‘Colors Hidden Within the Gray’ to him.
What is next for yourself and Autumn Tears?
We are currently working on our next full length album which hopefully will be ready by the end of the year.
Thank you for the enchanting and haunting music, as well as your time Ted.
My absolute pleasure, thank you!
ACT 2 – ZERESH
Zeresh is your project and I believe it came into being around 2017/18? Also what prompted you to create Zeresh?
The name “Zeresh” came to be around 2017 but the idea and many of the songs existed long before that and were waiting for me to be able to give them some kind of an output.
In June 2017 I did my first solo concert and that’s when the need for a name became obvious.
My debut EP ‘Sigh For Sigh’ was already recorded at the time yet I struggled hard with mixing it since I had zero knowledge or experience of how to do it.. but once it was completed I embraced the name Zeresh for this project.
The name Zeresh seems highly symbolic. In Persian it means gold, in the old Testament Zeresh is a wife, as well as being linked to meaning strange or misery. Why did you choose this name?
First of all I liked how it sounds – yet it seemed a bit too “black metal” for my project.. It didn’t feel right for this purpose but I loved the name so much that I’ve decided to name my beautiful black cat ‘Zeresh’. After doing this, I got “jealous” and stole the name for my project too.
I also liked the fact that in the biblical story, even though she was a side character (Hamann’s wife) she was the smartest and most evil figure.
If you don’t mind me asking, what is the dark/gothic/metal scene like in Israel?
I’m glad you asked because I love the Israeli scene – we have a lot of wonderful bands and musicians over here. Some of them are very very special.
The local Gothic scene is tiny, almost nonexistent but the general dark scene here has some wonderful projects.
Also, our metal scene is pretty rich and ever changing. Israel has some bigger mainstream-ish metal bands and some very ‘strange fruits’ (which are usually my favorites);.
I’m probably forgetting many other great projects but here are some of the ones (which are still active) that I love the most from the local scene:
There is also the doom project Cruel Wonders. What drew you into the realms of neo-classical/neo-dark folk?
I’m into dark music of all different genres and kinds, both as a listener as well as a musician.
You have not only collaborated with Autumn Tears but also you did the split album with them. What was this like for you as an artist?
Amazing! Working on the split album has been an honor and also very special to me because I tried to take my songs to be’ more romantic’ while Ted took his songs to a darker place this time, so they would fit well together.
Also, Ted is really wonderful to work with, both artistically and personally.
Your half of the album is called Possessing. Could I please ask about the concept behind Possessing and how you feel it couples up with Widowing?
My half of the album is about obsession; holding on to a relationship that’s not there, not being able to get another person out of your head or to let go.
The way I see it ‘Widowing’ (the part by Autumn Tears) is about loss; but from a “healthier” perspective – sort of the other side of the same coin.
Which do you feel is your favourite track off this album and why?
I can’t really say too much about Possessing but even though it’s hard to choose – my favorite song from Widowing is “Unmaker of worlds”, simply because it’s absolutely perfect!
It’s dark, heavy and intense musically and lyrically. Plus, I just love Caroline Joy Clarke’s vocals there.
I actually admire all the other Autumn Tears singers and musicians and I still can’t believe I’m sharing music with those extremely talented professional musicians.
If given the opportunity to do another split album, would you do it again and are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?
I’m actually working on a short split collaboration for a local label as we speak and I would love to do more in the future.
I would gladly collaborate again with everyone I’ve worked with before so far.
The list of musicians I’d be thrilled to work with for the first time is endless but I’ll try to sum it up somehow:
Rïcïnn, Kim Larsen (Of The Wand And The Moon), King Dude, Darkher, Darkwood, None, Les Days, Liturgy, Leya, Natural snow buildings, Ungfel, The Drows, The Devil’s Trade, A. A. Wiliams…
It really is a Never-ending list so I’ll randomly stop here.
What musicians/bands or type of music first dragged you into the scene and what ignites your soul now?
I’m not sure which scene I should refer to, but if we’re talking about ‘non-standard’ folk, the first ones I listened to as a teenager were: Current 93, Death In June and some other similar and related projects.
Nowadays I still listen to a lot of different types of neofolk, dark folk, industrial and also just plain beautiful folk.
I love it when folk music manages to somehow fit in nicely with industrial.
Anyhow, here are some examples of things I love in particular:
Of The Wand And The Moon, Sangre De Muerdago, Laura Marling, Rome, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Darkher, Aggaloch, Hasta LA Victoria, Nebelung, Darkwood and many more.
I also listen to other genres – from black metal to classical music, experimental, drone and lots of other things.
Taking possession completely off the tracks here but if you could be possessed by one deceased musician for a day, to let them record one more track, who would you let use your body?
The obvious answer would be Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith, so I’ll go with that.
What is in the future for Zeresh?
The next Zeresh album is almost 100% written but I have to produce it. It is going to be darker than anything I’ve done so far.
Nowadays I’m actually working as Zeresh on a short split collaboration for a local label. It’s a project I’m doing with one of my favorite Israeli bands – ‘Ketoret’.
Besides that, I’ve already recorded a song for the next ‘Autumn Tears’ album and we shall start writing the third ‘Cruel Wonders’ album pretty soon.
I’m also involved in a new project with my husband who is the other half of ‘Necromishka’ (and mostly known as ‘Kadaver’) plus another of my favorite local musicians – Shay Mizrahi, of ‘Choshech’. I’m not sure if it’ll be a 3-way collaboration or whether it’ll have its own name.
And lastly – we’ve been producing a split album between ‘Necromishka & Agnivolok’.
In the wilds of New Zealand where the spirits of the trees still whisper secrets and the rocks hold their tales, you will find Amy Tucker West, also known as Parabola West. For those unfamiliar, Parabola West is a project stirred in a Celtic cauldron, mixing synths, folk music and a liberal sprinkling of magic, kind of a mix between Dead Can Dance, Lycia and Clannad so to speak. On the 29th of April, the album Stars Will Light The Way, was dropped, with dreamy ballads about the world and love, to heartfelt pleas for sanctuary and understanding, but always with an undercurrent of modern instruments blended with the traditional. So join us on our Celtic dreaming, speaking to the delightful Amy about the new album and.. well …everything to do around it. Beware of the imps!
Welcome into the fens of the Onyx Garden, Amy Tucker West of Parabola West. We occasionally drop in ritualistic items in the dark waters, just to keep the impish spirits happy.
Thank you! I have a dash of moon water prepared just for this sort of occasion!
In your bio, you say you discovered piano as a young adult. Was music a big thing in your life before this?
Music was a massive part of our household growing up. It would be very common for my mother, sister, and me to sing together as one of them played guitar. Lessons were something that we couldn’t really afford, but that limitation didn’t deter my mother. She was a painter, and so she decorated the walls of the music school with her artwork in exchange for us to have lessons. From that, I internalized from a young age that music was a valuable and important part of life.
You live in New Zealand, land of the long white cloud but you are not originally a Kiwi. How did you end up there?
I’m originally from the east coast of America, and I ended up joining a UK-based band in my early 20s and moving to England to perform with them. When I was over there, I met someone from New Zealand and ended up coming here with him in 2003. That relationship didn’t work out, but I loved it here and decided to stay. Fast forward many years, and I’m now an official citizen of NZ! Woohoo!
Was it a bit of a culture shock going from America to New Zealand?
It’s a unique experience to feel equally at home and equally an outsider in two countries.
I think the biggest culture shock is actually going back to America for a visit after so much time living here in New Zealand. The scale of things in America is overwhelming for the first few days. On my last trip, I remember visiting the grocery store and getting decision fatigue whilst standing in a massive aisle devoted entirely to hummus options. So. Much. Hummus. By the time I got to the toothbrush section, I was deranged with wonder.
Did you feel a difference in the music scene in NZ as opposed to the US and do you think this has influenced your style?
I wasn’t really active in the US music scene before I went to England, but I can now tell you that performing for a NZ audience versus an American audience is a totally different experience! In New Zealand, the audience will clap politely at the end of a song and probably say something nice to you privately after your show. In America, the audience is significantly more expressive throughout a show and will let you know what they think. The Kiwis are much more reserved, and the Americans are more likely to wear their hearts on their sleeves or ‘woohoo’ mid-song.
You launched your new album “Stars Will Light The Way” in April. Your last album was released in 2017 called “Purity of Weakness”. Can I ask why there was a 5 year break?
I released “Purity of Weakness” as an EP back in 2017 because I wasn’t quite ready to release a full-length album yet. My thinking was that you only get one shot at a debut album, so I wanted to make sure I had nurtured my audience enough and built my brand to the point where I could roll out a debut the way I wanted to. But, I certainly didn’t intend for “Stars Will Light the Way” to take five years to come alive! The schedule got a bit blown out by some family hardships and then a dash of pandemic. Life got a bit lifey in-between.
The sound of the album is this beautiful mixture of Celtic dreaming folk, with pop savvy. What drew you to create this style?
Thank you! I’ve always been drawn to a bit of darkness mixed in with the dreamy, and I found that the old folk instruments used in Celtic, Slavic, and Scandinavian folk really have an emotional / melancholy depth that appealed to my ear. But, I also love synth and electronic influences as well as ethereal / otherworldly sounds, so my music ends up being a blend of a few genres. I try not to think about the style or genre when I’m writing, and instead I just focus on getting the produced version to sound the way it does in my head.
What is the premise behind “Stars Will Light the Way”?
It didn’t start out with a premise or a theme in mind, but everything changed as the production got underway. I started getting these character ideas for each song, and they were very specific and in full color in my head. I decided to follow that thread, and alongside the album recording I began working on a book of visuals to go with the music. It culminated in a 48 page fantasy photography lyric book (which includes a CD). I decided on the title “Stars Will Light the Way” because each song explores a different way of finding a path through the darkness.
With Covid causing mayhem around the world for 2 years, how did this affect your creating and recording the album?
It was definitely a contributing factor for why it took 5 years to release this album! I worked with two producers (Scott Newth and Andrew Newth), and I can’t think of a single time that we were all in the same room together since the start of Covid. We worked remotely, sending files and ideas back and forth. In some ways, it was really cool to have that extra space for ideas to grow in isolation. There were some silver linings within the sh*t sandwich.
New Zealand is a rather magical place with its green rolling hills, snowy peaks and native inhabitants, the Maori, with their rich history and tales. How do you feel this has an effect on your music?
New Zealand is, indeed, a deeply magical place! For me, the landscape feels like it holds a spiritual energy. The past 7 years of living off-grid up a misty mountain has really heightened my appreciation for existing in harmony with the seasons and the elements. Lyrically, the themes of nature pop up a lot in “Stars Will Light the Way”.
Who or what were your early musical influences?
Depeche Mode, Tori Amos, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, Information Society, Kate Bush, and fantasy film soundtracks. I also thrashed a mixtape full of artists from Projekt Records (standouts on that cassette were Love Spirals Downwards, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, and Lycia).
Is there anyone that you listen to now that brings you great joy?
I curated a playlist on Spotify called Beautiful Darkness which has a lot of examples of music I’m enjoying at the moment. There are a few Scandinavian artists (Aurora, Agnes Obel, Eivør, and Kite) that get a heavy rotation, but there are also artists like PJ Harvey and Coco Rosie on there as well.
If ever I am in a desperate funk, however, I turn to the Sesame Street Disco album. Specifically, ‘Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco’ performed by Cookie Monster.
We have heard that you love French bull dogs. What is it about them that makes you giddy with joy?
Oh Frenchies! Yes, they are the perfect blend of cuddly and adventurous. They snore and fart hilariously through the night, and every Frenchie I’ve met has a friendly nature and a heart of gold. My husband and I had the privilege of raising two, and they brought us immense joy.
What do see in the future for Parabola West?
The immediate future is planning and executing an epic summer tour in the southern and northern hemispheres. After that, I’m interested in exploring the realm of writing for film and television.
Brisbane band, Daylight Ghosts have been tantalizing you with singles since 2020. Comprised of musicians Adam Dawe (vocalist/songwriter) and Karl O’Shea (guitarist/composer/programmer/shaker of reindeer bells), this duo is involved in no less that 6 other bands between them but they decided to embark on a musical route neither has traveled before. The 25th of March, 2022 marks the release of their album Urban Umbra, which is a collection of the singles and extra tracks.
I have reviewed some of the singles previously, so I was already familiar with many of the tracks. I would have to say my favourite off the album is “After The Fall“, It is simple in its delivery, with a slow intense burn that you feel to your very core. Dawe’s singing is so perfect, giving you goosebumps with the sadness and tenderness. You can be consumed by tracks like “Golden Hour” which reflects the fading of points in time which cannot be recaptured, the melancholic “No Man’s Land” (no doubt Nick Cave inspired) and the intricate “After The Flood“.
In the end Urban Umbra runs a gamut of lost and unrequited love, lost perfect moments in time and tunes that you can decide what they mean to you. There is a divine symmetry between the acoustic and the use of synths, giving each of those tracks a well of emotional depth. O’Shea composes tunes that in essence have a dark core to them and wend their way into your mortal fabric. Dawes creates lyrics that pull at your heart strings, evoke memories and sentimental ideals, while his singing paints pictures of what has been and mirages of what could have been, in colours of murky dusky hues. This is the essence of Daylight Ghost’sUrban Umbra, a shadowy world of memory and dreams, drenched in longing. To that end……bleakly exquisite.
The 4th of March is the day Brisbane band, Daylight Ghosts unleashed their latest single, “Golden Hour” which is off then soon to be released debut album Urban Umbra, Adam Dawe (lyrics, vocals) and Karl O’Shea (acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, keyboards) are the duo responsible and Karl is so very lucky I didn’t know about the sleigh bells or that would have been questioned vigorously in the interview that will be available after Urban Umbra is released on March the 25th. A stalwart of the Brisbane music scene, Matt Dodds was involved in programming, production, mixing and mastering.
The acoustic guitar and glockenspiel are such simple instruments and yet they convey such emotion and warmth. The synths are like a virtuoso filler, giving the song a fuller feel as it proceeds. Dawes’ vocals are heart-wrenching and poignant as he sings about all beautiful moments will draw to a close.
“Golden Hour is a song about beautiful moments and the cruel realisation that they have to inevitably end” explains vocalist/lyricist Adam Dawe. “It’s a personal reminder to make the most of the moments as they all have an expiry date and nothing lasts forever. To enjoy the last rays of light before the sun inevitably sets for the day.”
Life is full of moments of realising that that particularly wonderful instant will fade and it is bittersweet but there is also the realisation that there will be many more of those moments in time. The video was created with director/DOP Rhys Tyack, with the band members in the bush looking completely wrecked and human crows waiting for their last moments. Even O’Shea’s bandmate from Ghostwoods, James Lees had a hand in making the video and it is jolly well worth a look. So, sit back and relax in the glow and gorgeous warmth of the “Golden Hour”.
Nathan Amundson, from Denver, Colorado, has been at the helm of the band Rivulets, since 2000. The latest single to be released on November the 1st, is a song that can be found on the 2006 album, You Are My Home, however this version is a digital master of the track “Can’t I Wonder“, performed solo by Amundson.
This is literally one man and his acoustic guitar. The vocals are soft and Amundson has a very sweet timbre. For me, the song makes me think of snow and frosty mornings, when the day is quiet. You are alone in your thoughts because a new day has broken and it full of possibilities.
This is a very stripped back affair compared to the 2006 version though I feel both deserve their time in the light. The current single has a sense of both lament and hope, brought to the foreground because the bones and soul have been lair bare for all to see. You could describe the music as minimalist indie folk but we will just say that Rivulets do this really well.
September the 24th saw the release of Brisbane band, Daylight Ghosts, latest single, “In The Glow“. This neo-folk group is made up of two members, Adam Dawe (vocals/lyrics) and Karl O’Shea (acoustic guitar/keyboards/arrangement) and was given life in 2019. Since then, they have brought forth two previous singles and are looking towards the release of the EP, also named In The Glow.
The drum machine hold the constant beat, the acoustic guitar winds it’s way around Dawe’s vocals. A melancholy about that they cannot live with nor without. ‘Lyrically In The Glow is a song about addiction disguised as the creative process disguised as addiction. Erase. Start over. Erase‘, wrote Dawe. There is an insistent piano line in the chorus and synths that gently aid in the heightened emotions.
There is a lot passion and heart in this piece. O’Shea plays the guitar beautifully and Dawe never lets the lament break the smooth and clean vocals. Gothic tinged electro/neo-folk is probably my best description of Daylight Ghosts. They literally are like a blue flame in the dusk hours, illuminating the shadows into stories to be sung. Discover Daylight Ghosts and their eerily alluring “Into The Glow“.