Serpentyne – Myths And Muses

Rating: 4.5/5
Distributor/label: Self Released
Released: April 2015
Buy Album [URL]: http://www.serpentyne.com/#!buy-cds/c2267
Band Website: http://www.serpentyne.com/

 SerpentyneBand line-up:

Maggie-Beth Sand –Voacals, Harmonium, Synthesiser
Mark Powel – Hurdy-Gurdy, Cittern, Guitar
Pamela Pecko Smith – Vocals, Flute
Mark Jenkins – Keyboards, Bouzouki
Andrea Furlan – Didgeridoo
Jay Tubsman – Drums

Tracklisting:
  1. Boudicca
  2. Alexandria
  3.    Valkyries
  4. Gaudete
  5. Hymn To Cynthia
  6. Je Vivroie Leiment
  7. Douce Dame Jolie
  8. Freya’s Firedance
  9. A Rosebud In June
  10. Pastyme With Good Company
  11. Les Garcons De Montagne
Review

Folk music for the digital age would be one way of describing one of London’s most unusual bands. With a host of traditional instruments such as the hurdy-gurdy and harmonium standing alongside synthesiser and guitar it’s almost impossible to think of any other act that sounds quite like Serpentyne. Add in Maggie-Beth Sand’s medieval tinged vocals and you’ve got a sound that conjures up images of dragons and knights, but now not centuries ago. You might think it would be jarring but it isn’t, it all fits together beautifully.

Where the album really hits home is the way it manages to be unified but diverse at the same time. The unusual array of instruments add cohesion which allows for a very diverse set of songs. We get the eastern promise of ‘Alexandria’ , the more tribal ‘ Freya’s Firedance’ and a kind of antipodean Arthurian mash up on ‘Boudicca’. There’s just no getting away from that didgeridoo, which also has the effect of turning some songs like ‘ A Rosebud In June’ into something you might hear in a monastery in a Mad Max movie.

A sympathetic treatment of Steeleye Span’s signature piece ‘Gaudete’ shows the band know how to get the most out of a cover without resorting to riding roughshod over the character of the original. In fact in this instance the old classic sounds magnificent in its contemporary clothes. It helps immensely that Sand has one of those beautifully finished English rose voices that almost makes you want to cry with joy when you hear it. At no point on Myths And Muses does the vocal do anything but enhance the listeners pleasure and it is a wonderfully soothing listen right throughout. Bringing traditional folk into the now can often be a painful experience, on Myths And Muses Serpentyne have given a masterclass in how it should be done.

Review by Gary Trueman
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