Review of the 1979 album “Milkweed” – a collection of enigmatic folk stories.

Review of the 1979 album “Milkweed” – a collection of enigmatic folk stories.


The plant known as ilkweed is a durable, blooming plant that is poisonous to various species, including humans. It is a suitable name for a musical duo whose sound resembles various forms of folk music sprouting in unsettling shapes from unusual ground.

The artwork for Milkweed’s Folklore 1979.

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Milkweed’s third release, titled “2023’s The Mound People” and “2022’s Myths and Legends of Wales,” consists of nine tracks that total just over 10 minutes. The lyrics of these songs draw inspiration from obscure books. For this album, the band draws from an academic folklore studies journal, incorporating strange tales, editors’ letters, and obituaries into their music. The sounds of zithers, traditional pipes, and softly hit drum skins accompany the lyrics. These sounds may be samples or synthesised replicas, as they all have an eerie quality that adds to the overall atmosphere of the album.

Starting off with a song titled My Father’s Sheep Has Passed Away, the endeavor would possess more of a darkly comedic insider joke vibe if it didn’t also intricately incorporate elements of folk horror. The female vocalist of Milkweed, simply known as G, is the key to the project’s impact. Her voice is eerily captivating, reminiscent of a distant relative of Anne Briggs and Radie Peat. Her words are dizzying, with phrases like “the breath turning into a storm and his voice transforming into thunder” in The Snake In Chinese Belief, or “learning as a young boy that the juice from the bloodroot was thought to be the blood of the deceased” in The Tree As a Kinship Symbol.

The unsettling electronic music of Mordant Music and the Ghost Box label can be heard throughout her fragmented compositions. The standout track, “Mordred, King Arthur’s Son,” lasting 97 seconds, captures the essence of this haunting sound. It tells a dramatic tale, set in a waltz rhythm, about a king who commits incest and locks his daughter in a tower with 12 attendants. The story ends tragically with all the attendants giving birth and drowning. This track leaves a lasting impression, lingering long after it has ended.


Releasing this month is…

Andy Skellam’s album, “Brighten Up the Place” released under the name Pear O’Legs, features dreamy songs about lost love, carefree birds, and loyal dogs. The soft melodies and gentle strumming of the guitar, along with Skellam’s hushed vocals and the cello’s bowing, create an intimate atmosphere. In Johnny Campbell’s self-released album, “True North,” he presents eight traditional songs from English counties in the north. These songs were recorded in the highest locations of each county, although they sound down-to-earth and reflect Campbell’s distinct accent from Huddersfield. Heisk’s “Headstrong” released by The Bothy Society, has artwork reminiscent of Ze Records from the early 80s. This all-female band of six brings together accordions, fiddles, and electro harp, creating a unique mix of upbeat pop with occasional unsettling moments. The standout track, “Diamonds,” introduces a new genre: sultry R&B combined with squeezebox music.