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Between The Earth and Sky (2017), 6/10
The Livelong Day (2019), 6.5/10

Irish quartet Lankum (Ian Lynch, Daragh Lynch, Radi Peat and Cormac MacDiarmada), called Lynched when they debuted with Cold Old Fire (2014), offered an original take on traditional folk music on Between The Earth and Sky (2017) and The Livelong Day (2019). They play acoustic instruments like guitar, banjo, violin, double bass, harp, piano, organ, vibraphone, bagpipes, concertina and harmonium but used them in a non-traditional manner to generate hypnotic drones that sound like electronic music. These drones are then laid on top of traditional folk chants (such as What Will We Do When We Have No Money?, Willow Garden and, less successfully, the second half of the eight-minute Deanta in Eireann or instrumentals (the seven-minute slow-motion square dance The Townie Polka). Outside that "trance-folk", they pen the a-cappella counterpoint of Peat Bog Soldiers and the Leo Kottke-esque vignette The Granite Gaze; and they display a bit of rowdy punk-folk energy in the rhythmic songs, like Sergeant William Bailey and especially Bad Luck to the Rolling Water, which also one of the few originals. The 12-minute The Turkish Reveille overstays its welcome as the litany unfolds gently and slowly over the drones with too little movement to justify the duration. The second Lankum album boasts generally longer songs in the format of the slow litany, but that format has been perfected to become an effective emotional vehicle, as demonstrated by the ten-minute The Wild Rover (that ends with an epic crescendo) and by the nine-minute Katie Cruel (that sounds like a protracted Nico tribute). The lively jig Bear Creek breaks the monotony of slow litanies. The two originals are also the catchiest songs: the martial Hunting the Wren and the shy The Young People. The title of most haunting composition probably goes to the mournful, horns-driven Ode to Lullaby.
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