Fool’s Ghost are a band from Louisville, Kentucky, composed of two people only, husband and wife Amber and Nick Thieneman. And let me tell you straight from the beginning that they have delivered a stunning debut album with Dark Woven Light. You probably haven’t heard of Fool’s Ghost yet, but I am pretty sure you will. Their music is of a peculiar nature, combining sounds and concepts that are usually considered worlds apart. There is a touch of Southern-tinged gothic folk in it, as there is in the music of Chelsea Wolf, but also a bit of decidedly European sounds and bands like Portishead and The Gathering.
The album’s first track is titled Epilogue and not because the band got things backwards, but because Dark Woven Light is an “elegy for the apocalypse” as the band’s Bandcamp page says. It appears to have been written from an emotional state that manifests after the end. Unsurprisingly, a heavy melancholy lies over everything, but so does a calming sense of acceptance. The music, composed mainly of keyboards, vocals and guitars, is of a slow, dark, pondering, gothic character. A slide guitar adds a bit of blues here and there, establishing a connection to the American South. The melodies flow unhurriedly and heavily, like a mighty, slow-running river. Amber Thieneman’s vocals are monotone, soft and heavy, expressing deep sadness, but at the same time providing a velvety comfort.
To get the full impression of everything described above, I recommend you watch the video to the track Touch. In monochrome pictures of a leafless, wintery forest and a flooded landscape devoid of life, Amber Thieneman stands motionless, clad in a long, black robe, looking like an apparition. She sings a sad tale of the absence of human-to-human contact and the sore need for it. Chill-inducing, I tell you.
The atmosphere remains the same throughout the album. You feel the weight of the world pressing down on you, but there is also a stoic calmness to be heard and a sense of relief stemming from the fact that the majority of the situation is and has always been beyond your control.
Of the ten tracks that compose the album, Chasing Time is my favourite. It starts out with reverberating beats, to which keyboards, vocals and later guitars are added. Every note, every instrument can be heard in detail, just like the lyrics. And the lyrics and their vocal interpretation are probably what I like best about this track, because they express the aching desire to feel something profound, to get to the core of things, even at great cost: I want to break my body / to free my bones / what am I made of / will I ever know?
Honest, profound and real. Do you need music to additionally remind you of the reality of existence in these difficult times? That’s up to you.