This Pale Fire – Alchemy, is a folk wonder of an album, but it’s also balanced with a clever amount of guitar, piano, strings arrangements and other bells and whistles to separate it from the static norms of folk and singer-songwriters of the day, and the past too for that matter. This is all done by bringing several styles together for the brainchild of Auckland, NZ artist Corban Koschak. And although not very easy to describe It’s like going on a journey through the musical map laid out in his mind, as he lets it all hang out on this full-length debut, released in November 2017.
“Northern Lights” gets things started, and it’s an entirely melancholy vibe to draw you into the track with a feather lightness that never quits. The almost tribal-like drums that quietly pound away in the background, helps the drama unfold as the track proceeds. The use of some sequencing toward the end is a welcomed thing to round it out, as well as the whispering background vocals. Things stay this way until
“Float Out” changes the course a little bit with some heavier handed musicianship and a fabulous singing job. It’s an absolutely-contagiously infectious song with a commanding effect.
“The Stag” and “The Sky” play well together in unison with each bringing the same level of musicality and production skills, to which the credit go-to both Levi Patel, and Koschak himself for selecting him. “It hurts all the same” as he so well puts it on the former of the two subsequent tracks, with its healthy amount of orchestral involvement.
These being followed by “Wolf,” Koschak begins to come on even stronger without the antics that can come with it. This is a composition that could take up a whole review itself. And it might even be the sleeper track of the album.
With “Delicate Words” being the next track, you’re caught up in the honesty of everything you hear, even if folk songs don’t usually float your boat. It’s just as singer-songwriting, easy listening and even pop music influenced, so it’s not just contained to folk. There’s a lot of piano and percussive enhancement in the atmosphere of it all, and Koschak is a master acoustic guitar player in his own right.
“Mountains” is another track which proves all-of the above and then some, with its completely stripped back factors. You can choose something from every track, but this rates among the best four tracks with me. It is a slice of perfection.
“End Of Silence” marks a departure in sound from the previous tracks, and it’s another good idea because it stands out and brings more life back into the album before it gets to the end of the journey. It’s a must hear if anything on the album is. Just listen, wait for it and hear as everything seems to fall into place at this point on the album. And for the rest of the duration, Koschak and CO, peek everything at musically even keel.
Don’t miss the extra-soulful vocals on “Birdcage” before it’s over, because it’s another highlight worth noting about a great album that should go as far as from where it came.