Ask The Night
Space-rock doyenne Orenda Fink (love any name that sounds like a character in an Edward Gorey comic), one-half of Azure Ray, explores an earthier sound, all red-clay and green hills, women in long black veils wandering through Appalachian cemeteries late at night, on Ask the Night. Determined to create an album without computers or any other digital intrusions, Fink and collaborators hunkered down in various living rooms and kitchens to create something handmade, intimate and accidental. By and large it does have the feel of a late night gathering of friends, seeking to bewitch and beguile one another in song.
“Why is the Night Sad” is a thing of perfect desolate beauty, with Fink reminding one of the clear, crystalline tones of Linda Perhacs while intoning,”Why is the night so, so, sad” over and over again, with only spidery acoustic guitar picking and the imagined crackling of firelight to accompany her. Other songs conjure up the pastoral reveries of Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond Day, minimal yet perfectly formed. There are also courtly nods to The Band at their most ghostly and reverent and Emmylou Harris. A few early tracks occasionally veer too close to Alison Krauss’ over-polished-bluegrass territory but, well, we can be relieved that it’s only temporary.
Ask the Night is a mix of hard-bitten, hard-luck dustbowl laments and murder-blues manques all awash in a dark-orange, autumnal hue. As the nights get longer and the weather gets colder, this is a fitting accompaniment to watching the orange tongues of flame flicker in the fireplace and reflect off icy window ledges.
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