For the best in trance-inducing progressive folk experimentations, seek out Pelt’s latest album, Reticence/Resistance.
Pelt has been a legendary force within the worlds of experimental and psychedelic folk music for over 25 years, and this album proves that their powers haven’t receded a bit. In fact, this might be the band at their strongest and most proficient.
Recorded live in London in 2017, this performance displays Pelt’s unique ability to take feral acoustic-based jams and whip them into transcendent harmony. Each of the side-long suites could easily slide into pure chaos if handled by lesser musicians, but Nathan Bowles (banjo, percussion), Patrick Best (piano, harmonium), Mike Gangloff (fiddle) and Mikel Dimmick (harmonium) steer the tracks skillfully into zones that are so sublime, they almost sound sacred.
On the A-side, “Diglossia” finds the group building upon Best’s fluttering piano work, creating an ever-mushrooming storm of hammering notes and atmospheric drones. The piece reaches an exuberant gong-filled crescendo, and slowly fades into a quiet finale of twinkling bells. This twenty-one minute track is like a rustic folk interpretation of the music of Don Cherry or Terry Riley. Without exaggeration, this piece is utterly splendid.
The suite on the flip side, “Sundogs -> Chiming -> The Door In The Hill,” is more atmospheric, with the band letting the gong, harmonium and fiddle each individually take center stage to set a hauntingly eerie tone. After around twelve minutes, the rest of the band drifts in to expand upon the spiritual mood, brightening it with celestial piano and upbeat percussion. It feels as though Pelt’s adaptation of “Sundogs,” originally written by their dearly departed former bandmate Jack Rose, is the band musically confronting the specter of death. Then, “Chiming -> The Door in The Hill” seems to represent them overcoming their fear of death, and moving past the grief of losing their friend. It’s a heavy yet beautifully transformative performance that the world is lucky to experience on this LP.
Available now through Three Lobed Recordings as a part of their 20th Anniversary series, you can get Reticence/Resistance here.