Album: Alasdair Roberts, The Wyrd Meme (Drag City)

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The Independent Culture

Following hard on the heels of Spoils comes the second offering this year from Alasdair Roberts, an EP of four long tracks that brilliantly bears out the conjunction of ancient and modern, mythical and analytical, in the title The Wyrd Meme.

Set to guitar and mooning harmonium, and sung in Roberts' distinctive reedy brogue, "Coral And Tar" has the tainted fragility of a double-edged love song by Will Oldham, while "The Yarn Unraveller", with its imagery of "the ship unlaunchable, yet forever doomed to sailing", recalls The Incredible String Band's more elliptical myth songs – though they never paused a song midway for a passage of feedback whines. Mythic beasts appear in suitably serpentine rhymes in the apocalyptic account of "The Royal Road At The World's End", before being summarily dismissed – "Oh no, the ourobouros looms in the sky before us, morphs into a foul abraxas, falls from the sky and attacks us – you think you're gonna scare me with your fuckin' taxidermy?". But it's "The Hallucinator And The King Of The Silver Ship Of Time" that best displays Roberts' ingenuity, yoking together the antique and contemporary ("With an eider quill retrace our annals, ungating all the snares, unpanning channels") to tell the tale of a drowning woman saved by the titular monarch.

Download this: The Hallucinator And The King Of The Silver Ship Of Time, The Royal Road At The World's End

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