All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre Cardinal Fuzz An autumnal symphony from the Left Outsides viola ace.
After two albums with husband Mark Nicholas in ongoing acid folk duo The Left Outsides, Alison Cotton abandons traditional song structures to embark on her first solo work. Following the heady path opened up on her collaboratory cassette with Plinth’s Michael Tanner, this is still essentially a folk record, but leaves usual tropes as distant specks. Over five lengthy tracks, Cotton creates a mesmerisingly atmospheric autumnal symphony, armed with just her viola and spectral voice, frequently multi-tracked. Perhaps the closest comparison is the frozen warnings and arcane European folk spirits on Nico’s 1968’s shape-shifting The Marble Index; a haunting drone reverie set against stark backdrops of skeletal trees and ancient church ruins (even a deserted WW1 battlefield). Cotton’s spell is cast from the first waves of mournful viola that bring in the opening 10-minute title track, dueting with itself then joined by the pastoral strokes of her worldess vocals. This continues through The Last Sense To Leave Us, The Bells Of St Agnes – where her vocal resembles a medieval Nico – and A Tragedy In The Tithe Barn. A beautiful album that’s perfect for the cold snap.