Gwenifer Raymond — Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain (Nov. 13, 2020)                                                         Gwenifer Raymond — Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain (Nov. 13, 2020)   Gwenifer Raymond — Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain (Nov. 13, 2020)⇔  Děsivě spletená hudba. Jak toho dosáhla? Dokonalou kytarovou hrou, inspirovanou jejím druhým albem, waleskou výchovou, cílevědomě tak přispívá k hororovému blues plnému atmosféry.  Location: Cardiff, Wales ~ Brighton, UK
Genre: Finger~Picked Guitar, Contemporary Folk, British Folk, Neo~Traditional Folk
Album release: November 13, 2020
Record Label: Tompkins Square
Duration:     43:43
1. Incantation   3:18
2. Hell for Certain   5:52
3. Worn Out Blues   4:38
4. Marseilles Bunkhouse: 3am   7:21
5. Gwaed Am Gwaed   4:39
6. Ruben’s Song   4:39
7. Eulogy for Dead French Composer   6:16
8. Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain   7:00
⊗  Jinnwoo  Back Cover Photo
⊗  Darryl Norsen  Design
⊗  Casey Raymond  Cover Photo
 Gwenifer Raymond  Composer, Engineer, Mixing
⊗  Andrew Weathers  Mastering
Jude Rogers ⌊Fri 6 Nov 2020 08.30 GMT⌋ Score: ★★★★ Folk album of the month
⊗⇔⊗  Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain review — eerily tangled roots music.
⊗⇔⊗  The Garth Mountain marks the south~east of the Welsh mining valleys and the north~west of Cardiff, bronze age burial mounds pocking its peak in strange, crumpled formations. It loomed behind Gwenifer Raymond’s house when she grew up, as the guitarist moved from explorations of punk towards folk, traditional music, the blues and beyond. 
Raymond’s 2018 debut, You Never Were Much of a Dancer, set alight the ghost of American primitive pioneer John Fahey (one track was a requiem for him, echoing his own for Mississippi John Hurt). Her fingers tangled around her guitar strings in thrilling, intricate patterns. This time, on an album richly influenced by her birth country, she tries to invent a new style: Welsh primitive, she calls it, infused with folk horror, conjuring up coal trains steaming along the foot of her garden and tall, eerie trees, black against the grey sky.
⊗⇔⊗  Those expecting Welsh folk styles will be disappointed. Strange Lights’ closest cousin from Cymru is probably Rhodri Davies’ Telyn Rawn album from earlier this year, where his medieval harp’s horsehair strings seemed to seethe and bleed. Raymond’s references are more about mood, beginning with Incantation’s slow, single drum and shaken bells, then a simple, stark guitar line that weaves a menacing spell. Hell for Certain ups the pace, becoming thick, dense and tangled like a Davy Graham raga. Worn Out Blues bends out its sad melody with sighs of both melancholia and terror.
⊗⇔⊗  Gwaed am Gwaed (Blood for Blood) most effectively conjures up an ominous landscape, however, driven by a minor~key folk ballad figure that writhes around and over itself, like a mythical creature slithering out of the shadows. Raymond’s similarly fearsome precision often feels both portentous and perfect.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek; Score: 
⇔  Welsh acoustic guitarist Gwenifer Raymond appeared like an apparition in 2018 with her debut, You Were Never Much of a Dancer. Its music was steeped in an aggressive form of the American Primitive tradition John Fahey and peers created during the 1960s from the inspirational spell cast by the dusty 78s of Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Dock Boggs, and Roscoe Holcomb. Raymond, obsessed with Fahey’s take on the tradition, investigated his sources on her own. She developed a dazzling technical facility harmonically, modally, and rhythmically (the latter influenced no doubt by playing drums in punk bands). She won over critics and fans with a labyrinthian exercise in 21st century American Primitive.
⇔  Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain uses all of those influences in a more organic way: Raymond applies what she’s learned to reflect the music, soil, and coastline of her native Cardiff. Opener “Incantation” begins not with her guitar strings, but a single drum. Her six string emerges mysteriously, offering a melody that reflects a dissonant approach to Welsh folk through a slow, expressionistic, rag blues; the lower and middle strings offer a droning repetitive flow as the higher strings answer in bluesy counterpoint. “Hell for Certain” commences in folk blues before Raymond’s intensely rhythmic right hand fingerpicking is a driving blur. The implied lyric line evokes the feel of Welsh mining songs. Raymond employs a slide on the droning minor key, “Worn Out Blues” that weds her take on raga and folk blues; it owes a little to the example of British acoustic guitar pioneer Davy Graham. “Gwaed Am Gwaed” is Welsh for “blood for blood.” The tune’s mood reflects imposing dark trees, gothic horror, and the violent bleakness of the coastal weather. These elements charge in together, winding around one another with dissonant overtones and ringing counter melodies. The slow trajectory of “Marseilles Bunkhouse, 3 A.M.” crisscrosses raga, parlor music and spooky Celtic folk. “Eulogy for Dead French Composer,” (for Erik Satie) tracks the composer’s gift for restricted harmonic palettes and repetition, while channelling John Hurt’s rangy blues with razor sharp, chromatic fingerpicking and counterpoint, building to an unruly, flamenco~esque conclusion. The title track closer was named for a UFO sighting near Raymond’s childhood home. The most deliberate piece here, it sounds through~composed with layered and staggered chord voicings, insistent single~and~double string runs, and ringing drones.
⇔  Her technique weds striated, carefully plotted dissonance, bluegrass, centuries old folk tradition, and provocative modern rhythmic syncopation that is as innovative technically as it is emotionally resonant. While Raymond continues to use American Primitive as a core source of aestehtic and technical inspiration, her music on Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain grafts on the moods and atmospheres of her Welsh homeland and tradition as she inserts sense memory impressions from her biography that adds meaning to the music. This is a compelling, satisfying, richly musical statement from a gifted player developing a uniquely individual style. Welsh Primitive anyone?