Held as annually as he can manage in the environs of Cheltenham, Ian Fairholm’s marvellous Eppyfest is a gateway to much beauty and loveliness. One of the discoveries I have made from it is finger-style guitarist and singer Marvin B. Naylor. Marvin has released a number of albums over the years and writes a highly entertaining blog about his busking experiences, largely on the streets of Winchester.
For this album he has joined up with Ian’s wife Rebsie Fairholm to become Psychedelicat. Having bonded over a love of 12-string guitars, the self-identified differences between their styles cover Marvin’s “’60s-marinaded psych-pop” and Rebsie’s “dark chocolate psych-folk”, the two different approaches merging on this album to produce a strange and engaging hybrid as 12-strings collide in unexpected ways, the sound supplemented with harp, Mellotron, crumhorn, “early-Floyd-style effects units” and anything else they came across in the studio.
It’s the 24-string jangliness and ’60s harmonies that immediately become apparent on opener Ark, all upbeat vibes and soaring sounds as the guitars peal like church bells. The duo’s voices gel very nicely and it’s an engaging mix. The Mellotron comes into play for the intro of Steer By the Stars, Rebsie’s breathy vocals taking the lead. It’s a lovely song, and if somebody pronounced this to be a newly discovered rarity from 1969, it would be easy to believe them as the ingenious integration of sound and mood float past in a radiant spectrum.
There’s some beautiful picking on the brief Oudh Masala, made more atmospheric by haunting pipe melodies and a wobbly tremelo, the piece almost acting as a couplet with the mystical off-kilter duet Green Adieu, Mellotron again adding its unique colours as Marvin and Rebsie alternate vocal lines. It’s far too short, building a vibe that could certainly have been extended. Sometimes it’s the fragility of Marvin’s vocals that lessen the impact of his own songs, but here they work beautifully in communion with Rebsie in the world of possibilities they create together. It’s all quite moving.
The Dark Folk creeps in for Icy Window, becoming more strident after the initial verse, with some lovely harmonies before the sound is expanded with added instrumentation. We’re into a world of traditional folk for Corpus Christi, harp and 12-strings accompanying Rebsie’s delicate vocal, as she harmonises with herself in an angelic choir, both of the instruments taking lead sections later on. It’s highly evocative stuff, and beautifully played. The traditional vibe continues with John Dowland’s Captain Digorie Piper his Galliard, crumhorns, recorders and shining guitars merging to give unique textures amid swirling vocals and provide one of the album highlights. Pirating on a sunny day.
Tiny Compass is about the vocals, with guitar accompaniment. I find the vocals on this one to be a little too wayward and the progress a little too staid to be wholly satisfying, but it is, of course, nicely played. The 12-string and recorder of Venus Blue set a delicate scene upon which Rebsie’s vocal hangs, like breath freezing in the chill of a winter evening. Promenading is more bubbly, as the two wordless vocals entwine with an almost Edwardian vibe. The album’s concluding piece is also its longest, Bright Hucclecote offering an eery vibe, into which Rebsie’s vocal flows. Folk with a sinister edge that builds in the second half on a quietly insistent piano before dying away on effects and muttered vocals.
This album certainly creates a unique and very appealing psychedelic folk soundworld that makes the most of the talents of the two protagonists. It’s fragile and delicate, without becoming cloying and overly sentimental, and the playing is uniformly excellent. More please!
01. Ark (3:13)
02. Steer By the Stars (4:09)
03. Oudh Masala (1:56)
04. Green Adieu (1:19)
05. Icy Window (3:19)
06. Corpus Christi (5:48)
07. Captain Digorie Piper his Galliard (4:55)
08. Tiny Compass (3:44)
09. Venus Blue (3:55)
10. Promenading (2:35)
11. Bright Hucclecote (6:08)
Total Time – 40:52
Rebsie Fairholm – Vocals, 12-string Electric Guitar, Harp, Piano, Alto Cornamuse, Alto & Tenor Recorders, Tenor & Bass Crumhorns, Bowed Psaltery, Bowed Telecaster, Low Whistle, Keyboards, Percussion, Echorec Effects
Marvin B. Naylor – Vocals, 12-string & 6-string Guitars (Electric, Acoustic & Nylon), Bass, Keyboards, Kantele, Percussion, Echorec Effects
Jude Naylor – Drums (track 1)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 11th November 2022