Wovoka Gentle, a London-based experimental folk three-piece, released their debut EP « Yellow » last week. William Stokes and Imogen Mason met while studying in Edinburgh, and with her twin sister Ellie Mason formed the trio (both Stokes and the twins have their own musical projects besides). Instrumental experimentation intermingle with folk-influenced songwriting and dynamic live shows.
The beginning of « Seventh Day », the folk rockers’ debut single, sounds a bit like how you might imagine the first day of Genesis would sound… A beautiful chaos of synths, a twinkling banjo, and what sounds like a sample of taken from wind blowing in some faraway land (the promised land?), run away together before the strike of an acoustic guitar (not played at the pluck of a finger but with some sort of flat object, it seems) and vocal melody come in… humans have arrived on earth! And how lovely it is; the Garden of Eden, where the vocal harmonies make you miss the Fleet Foxes.
The EP’s final track, « The Death’s Head Hawk Moth » is my other favourite and can be heard in the pre-stream playlist you can find on the Yucatan Records website here, (the label the band were signed to in January). The track’s obscure title begs a story. An acoustic guitar swims along with the tweet of a birdsong sample, before the male vocals, chord-driven piano, and a flute come to play in the magical forest whose lyrical beginnings end with the folk-rock of Fleetwood Mac. You can hear Wovoka Gentle‘s heritage, but they have also given birth to something of their own too, coming up with new ways to play instruments and sounds from the everyday (and legendary).
And it doesn’t just come out of the studio; their former musical collaborations with an Edinburgh-based physical theatre company, Stasis, and a world premiere stage adaptation of « What’s Eating Gilbert Grape » at the London Bridgewell Theatre, have helped inform their experimental, multimedia approach to performance. Performance art, installations and visual projection all feature in their live shows, all the more reason to go and see them!