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Feathers at WNYC

FEATHERS • Feathers

This flock of Vermont-based folkies is making magickal music with a "k:" pastoral, multi-textured, imbued with an earth-centered spirituality. Neither new age nor drug inspired psychedelia, the music of Feathers nonetheless shares attributes of each camp. Distinctly American, the New England band falls in with a loose-knit collective or family of artists including Devendra Banhart and Vetiver's Andy Cabic, who together form the label Gnomonsong, on which Feathers makes its full-length national debut.

A trio of the songs herein first came out as a CDR called Gnomezoic Live. Then last year, the eight-person band released this self-titled LP as a limited vinyl outing. Thanks to musical brothers in arms Banhart and Cabic, Feathers is now spreading its wings and sharing its song with a larger audience.

From opening percussive-driven gambit "Old Black Hat with Dandelion Flower," Feathers beckon the listener to enter the world of the merry maids and woodsmen who whistle while they work. It's an altogether tantalizing invitation to enter this aural landscape, part madrigal, part pagan hymn, part common(folk)tale. "Past The Moon," an odd little tune with a pluckish guitar line and contrapuntal vocal melody, traipses into Polyphonic Spree territory and manages, too, to dance with the jazzy folk ghosts of Nick Drake, Fred Neil, and Tim (and son Jeff) Buckley.

A wholly acoustic affair, a listing of participants and instruments (running the gamut from guitar and dulcimer to birdcall to violin, clarinet and hair drum), Feathers might seem an inharmonious cacophony of noise. Contrarily, these gentle paeans to beauty and innocence are built each on a sound core structure, then adorned and caressed by winsome campfire vocals from both sexes and simple yet cunning musical flourishes such as a well-placed reed theme, a bit of percussion or woodsy string motif. This is born out time and again, perhaps best so on the elaborately simple (read: carefully constructed layers) and altogether lovely "Silverleaves in the Air of Starseedlings," a lush and mystical lullaby as suited to lovemaking as nursing down the wee bairn.   • Paige La Grone Babcock

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[The photos above were taken by remarkable song-maker and radio personality David Garland during the taping of his weekly new&unusual music show Spinning On Air. If you have an interest in Feathers, you can hear that performance & conversation here. You might also enjoy visiting the Spinning On Air archives where diverse pleasures await you.]

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