Rarely does an adjective like “drone-folk” make an appearance when describing a musical genre, but it’s absolutely fitting of Black Walls, the solo project by Ken Reaume. Mary of the Shrines is a precursor to the Communion LP, which will be out sometime later this year on the wonderful Pleasence Records.
The cassette is 15 minutes long, but features only two songs. Black Walls has an affinity for long, moody songs, as he showed with his previous release, Acedia, and the big song lengths seem to work well for him.
The first half of the cassette, clocking in at a little over eight minutes, is the title track, “Mary of the Shrines.” The song moves in waves, switching several times between blistering electric guitar and subtle guitar picking with delayed vocals. The results can be a bit disorienting, but that’s exactly the point. At one point the song will lure listeners into a false sense of security with some full silence right before, seemingly without warning, loud guitars make a re-appearance.
“Field One” is apparently a staple of Reaume’s live sets, and it takes the opposite stance of the previous song, starting with his gloomy folk instrumentals and vocals before amounting to another blistering solo that acts as the song’s climax. The vocals are much more distinguishable here, but also much more penetrating in tone, and armed with solemn lyrics like “We die by the sword” supported by simple guitar picking.
If this little recording is any idea, we’re going to be in for a hell of a trip when Communion comes out.
Top Tracks: Both
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)