Album: Espers <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

The wannabe-acid-folk-rockers Espers, a Philadelphia sextet based around the core vocal trio of Meg Baird, Brooke Sietinsons and songwriter Greg Weeks, take as their aesthetic touchstones the weird and whimsical, adventuresome folk music of The Incredible String Band, Donovan, The Sallyangie, Unhalfbricking-era Fairport, and the raga-infused guitar experiments of John Fahey and Robbie Basho. And about time, too: these artists made some of the most beautiful, challenging music of their era. It's sometimes hard, given the delicacy of the vocals, to tell what Espers are singing about on tracks like "Flowery Noontide" but it's more the instrumental texture that's important here, a beguiling blend of guitars, autoharp, cello and keyboard that gives wings to the imagination. Elsewhere, elements such as violin, dulcimer, flute and hurdy-gurdy are woven into skirling skeins of drones on tracks such as "Hearts & Daggers" and "Byss & Abyss", like some form of medieval minimalism. The cumulative effect is a kind of rustic enchantment that bears out the burgeoning interest in acid-folk, an idea which, thanks to the likes of Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Laura Veirs and now Espers, seems to have found its time.