Harvest Rain – Night Chorus

Harvest Rain, the group from South Carolina around songwriter Jason Thompkins, left a good impression with two EP’s with a neofolk style that sounded just a little different than many other acts. For their first album they show ambitions, guest musicians in the form of Tor Lundvall, Axel Frank (Werkraum) and flute player Amanda Votta as well as artwork and photos by Peter Bengsten and Tor Lundvall. Neverthless I can’t really get into the mood for ‘Night chorus’. I haven listened to it various times and my impression when it’s over is rather blank, I don’t dislike it but I’m not enthousiastic either.

Perhaps I’m a bit disappointed that the folky elements are less dominant than on previous recordings. Electronic, ambient, ethereal sounds play a more prominent role. They call it a “ghost ambient” style themselves. In general the sound is very bleak and minimal, enforced by the monotonous voice of Thomkins. The arrangements and melodies are rather static and uncomplicated, the instrumentation is not very lively. Also the production is a bit thin or flat. The drums for instance sound like a cheap mechanical device.

Some songs remind me of mid-phase Death in June material, as well as of some Martyn Bates creations. There are some decent moody, atmospheric haunting pieces, but after a while the lack of variation becomes a critical factor, especially since the album lasts almost an hour. The better pieces in my opinion are the more lively folky ones, like ‘Wafeln’ and ‘Reaching (for the saints)’ the doomy wave of ‘Our dead’ and the ethereal sound of ‘Glowing across’.

artist: Harvest Rain
label: OPN
details: 15 tracks, 2005 [opn cd 04]