“Nottamun Town” by The Satyrswitch

Nottamun Town from the album
The High Lonesome Sound of The Satyrswitch

Though there are other musicians involved, guitarist and vocalist Jason Kesselring is most of the show on The High Lonesome Sound of the Satyrswitch. He wrote most of the material and dominated the sparse arrangements with his full-bodied acoustic strumming, with bits of chord organ, keyboard sitar, standup bass, and light percussion added for color. Although this is just about categorizable as folk or folk-rock music, and there are rearrangements of folk standards like “Jack Orion” and “Nottamun Town” among the original compositions, it’s too odd to be embraced by traditional folk listeners. Kesselring has a low and slightly unhinged sing-speak vocal delivery, rather suggestive of a cross between Skip Spence and Jandek, to name-drop a couple of folky cult rock weirdos not much more familiar to most listeners than Satyrswitch are. The moody ambience recalls British folk guitarists Kesselring admires such as Davy Graham and Bert Jansch, as well as (especially on “Israfel” and “Kindred”) the exotic Americana of John Fahey and Robbie Basho, though not to the point of undue derivativeness. However, some of the more fully arranged compositions, like “Angel of Wolves,” are more suggestive of British acid-folk in their lightly trippy, and demented atmosphere, particularly as his vocals are liberally swathed in reverb on that track. It’s a pleasant, nicely varied eccentric album, good for early mornings or late nights when something slightly dark seems called for. ~ Richie Unterberger

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