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Friends Of Alice Ivy - The Last Days Of Fenwyck (2017) - Review

Band: Friends Of Alice Ivy
Album title: The Last Days Of Fenwyck
Release date: 1 May 2017
Label: Meadowlands

01. Fenwyck
02. Blackthorn
03. Albion
04. Wycca
05. Rooks
06. Brambling

The Australian duo bearing a fairy-tale name Friends Of Alice Ivy, invites us once again to close our eyes and to be taken out of reality, into an ethereal dream world full of magic and sparkling wonders with their new creation, The Last Days Of Fenwyck. After their immersively haunting and beautiful debut, The Golden Cage And Its Mirrored Maze, a dizzying kaleidoscope of exoticism, flights of fancy, star-gazing wonder and neoclassicism, released in 2014, Kylie and Amps once again overpassed themselves and created something truly magical, a mesmerizing inter-related concept album with which Friends Of Alice Ivy want in their own way say, "that those ancient ways of understanding change are dying and our connection with nature is dying. We are not hippies, but that disconnect is not a good thing. Our connection with nature is more distant than it has ever been", and perfectly captured the essence of the album. It's an album consisting of six songs of pure beauty, clocking in around 30 minutes that transcend the borders of ethereal music into something that could be called as dark-ethereal-neoclassical-gaze, if I try to experiment a bit with definitions.

Sensual, fragile, yet melancholic but highly evocative atmospheric soundscapes are quite dynamic so to say, but not in a bad way at all, it actually makes the whole thing even more exotic, somehow palatable, relaxating and on the other hand also deeply introversial. Like we were already used to hear on their debut album, also this time Friends Of Alice Ivy combine well arranged minimalistic song structures with almost epic, slowly building ambiances, but yet they managed to make something even more unique and absolutely deep. This album needs an attentive listener who knows how to consecrate properly into this kind of self-immersive soundscapes, otherwise it can become a bit monotone and you can easily miss out many hidden things that this music has to offer.

Kylie with her fragile, ethereal, sensual, gentle and yet strong voice is caressing the listeners senses in a stunning way, thankfully never being overly pretentious, but the proper effect is reached only in combination with those slowly evolving and heart-rending compositional structures and catchy melodies. Musically Friends Of Alice Ivy don't exagerate with unnecessary samples and various additions, yet there are many subtle layers waiting to be discovered, they use many very interesting percussions and by adding certain uncommon instruments the whole thing gets almost multidimensional. We are somewhere in the fields of sluggish ethereal neoclassical music, symphonic darkwave, shimmering folk, sometimes a bit avant-gardish, always nicely flowing while being backened by some mesmerizing darkness of captivating gothic ambiances. The sound is very rich, consistent and coherent, even though there are plenty of minimalistic parts. For example just listen to the astonishing magic of highly evocative "Rooks" and you'll know what I mean.

Fans of Dead Can Dance' album Into The Labyrint will for sure find some well known patterns in "Blackthorn", on the other side there are resemblances with Arcana in the magical "Wycca", or that brooding electronic samples and sparkling piano in "Brambling" can be compared with This Mortail Coil, conditionally even with Massive Attack. Even though some influences are clearly evident, Friends Of Alice Ivy reached kind of their own expression and own sound. They go even that far and spice up some songs with elements that are very close to dream-pop, sometimes at the border of shoegaze, and by doing that another necessary level of catchiness is masterfully reached. The Last Days Of Fenwyck is not only one slowly evolving soundscape, there's plenty of drama in it. Some songs get intensified with use of melancholic cello, played by guest musician Ellie Walker, and some well inserted piano touches on certain parts.

The Last Days Of Fenwyck is one of those albums that are deeply melancholic on one side, but as well sparkling on another, it should be heard with closed eyes and by using headphones with volume set at maximum. It almost literally takes your hand and you'll feel like flying above some primordial unspoiled nature and being surrounded by some fairylike creatures. It's a fairytale which begins already with the first look at the beautiful front cover artwork,... everything is so soothing. It's difficult to desribe what kind of emotions and memories this music evokes, but most certainly it stirs up many for every dreamer who will take this broody mystical path with Friends Of Alice Ivy.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10