This Is Alaska – Folks Of The Dark And Still Lake EP

This Is Alaska - Folks Of The Dark And Still Lake EP

This Is Alaska – Folks Of The Dark And Still Lake EP

Surrounded as I am today with the thickest snowfall I’ve seen in over two years, This Is Alaska provide exactly the soundtrack to a luminously frozen January afternoon. Vincent Stockholm and Annabeth MacNamara make exactly the kind of shimmering, glacial and deceptively brittle music that the aftermath of a blizzard requires, and yet it’s a sound with a definable warmth at its heart, powered by Stockholm’s finely timed piano and electronica that add a perceptible depth to MacNamara’s vibrant Autoharp and softly phrased vocals.

Four songs in length, Folks Of The Dark and Still Lake is one EP I’ve heard recently that has me very definitely wanting to hear more from its creators, such is its combination of crafted musicianship and inspired songwriting. First track “I Crossed The Meadow” is a work of subtle mastery, starting as a solo performance from Annabeth with just Autoharp and vocal until around the track’s midpoint a series of well placed piano chords and then quietly pulsing electronics give what was an already listenable piece a sonorous grandeur, one that’s redolent of these Alaskan resident’s actual enviroment. Living in a sparely populated mountain region inevitably creates music such as this, a near perfect ambient antidote to the assorted urban stresses most of us contend with daily.

That isn’t to say that This Is Alaska are presenting us with some kind of idealised fantasy, there’s a steely core at the center of their music that’s kept to a certain extent in the background. Adding swathes of reverb to the Autoharp provides a near mesmeric backdrop to second track “Isolation”, as Annabeth’s almost whispered vocal observes the experience of rural existence. “Isbytaren” is more conventional in its structure, sung by Vincent and then Annabeth, its tightly structured rhythms providing a compelling backdrop to their call and response dialogue.

Last track “I (Can’t) Forgive You” puts a lot into its just under three minutes, “I built a home across the sea / no one knows what it’s like to be me” sings Annabeth and as the song develops so does the musicianship, acoustic guitar and banjo decorated with keening xylophone notes and it ends only too soon. This isn’t the first release by either of these performers, and anyone wanting to hear more might check out Annabeth MacNamara’s recently released album Daphne’s Nest or indeed her two previous releases. This Is Alaska’s EP provides a noteworthy introduction to the work of these skilled and talented musicians.