Fern Knight – Castings

January 01, 1970





If you’re going to do a song cycle inspired by the way the
archetypes represented by the Tarot suffuse contemporary life, you’re not going
to use chirpy power pop or 150 bpm synth fluff to do it, right? Certainly not
if you’re Fern Knight. The Philadelphia band’s
fourth album Castings continues in
the musical vein of its previous work, fusing the haunted folk of foggy British isles and unlit castles with the dark psychedelia
and progressive rock of late ‘60s acts like King Crimson. (In fact, the band
covers “Epitaph” from Crimson’s debut album, just to underscore the debt.)


It’s the perfect setting for leader Margaret Ayres’ Tarot
tales – the melodic, mysterious tunes caress the imagery in “Cups + Wands,”
“From 0 to ∞” and “Pentacles” like soft fingers expertly handling the cards. Cellist
Ayres and violinist James Wolf weave in and out of the electric rock
arrangements with the unsettling grace of a snake moving through the grass.  On “The Eye of the Queen” and “The Poisoner,”
the combination of psychedelic guitar, wild-eyed strings and Ayers’ austere
moan is as potent as the spell cast by sirens on a sailor. An enigmatic and
beautiful record.


Poisoner,” “The Eye of the Queen,” “Long Dark Century” MICHAEL TOLAND

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