Saturday, June 24, 2023

Milkwood Tapestry - Milkwood Tapestry (1969 us, a journey into sea ring acid-guitar with touches of soft folky ballads, 2001 extra tracks release)

Although ostensibly a duo, Milkwood Tapestry's sole album is not, by any means, strictly or merely a folkie's record, although folk music certainly instructs its sound, particularly the British Isles strain with its flourishes of medieval instrumentation and Baroque lyricism. Roland Antonelli and Joseph Ransohoff's sound and style would have certainly been quite different had it not been for the example of the Incredible String Band. That band's influence is particularly heard in the later, quite wonderfully and idiosyncratic acoustic songs added as bonus tracks to this outstanding Gear Fab CD reissue. 

Garnished by delicate recorder and cello (and occasionally harpsichord) accompaniment, these previously unreleased songs sound, paradoxically, as if they could only have emerged either from an Elizabethan time-warp or out of the strange, progressively antiquated milieu of the late '60s. The original album also has its fair share of dotty acoustic numbers, and as fine as many of them are, they occasionally teeter over the cliff separating the mountain of prettiness from the valley of cute. 

As often is the case with this sort of thing from this particular era, the lyrics particularly can seem exceedingly twee at times ("Wonderous [sic] Fairy Tale"), a fact that can be as much an attribute as a detriment depending on the listener's mood and perspective regarding these things, either adding a patina of delightful guilelessness, a certain childlike whimsicality, or inducing a troublesome, annoying cavity. Even if you lean toward the last evaluation, though, the music is hardly sickening or too sweet. 

In fact, at least half the original album is quite hard-hitting, even quite-yet-psychedelic, with sharp fuzz guitar solos, acidic ebbs and flows, dark turns of melody, and wildly manic vocals from Ransohoff. "Beyond the Twelve Mile Zone" and "Signs of the Invisible Chalk" are prime examples, rising to and then retreating from electric crescendos before frantically bubbling again just before dramatic halts. "Journey-Less Ride" is also, well, an excursion into exceedingly trippy territory, while "The Window Sill's Song" is positively Left Banke-caliber in its stateliness. The rest has a certain heady, swirling quality that makes consistently wonderful listening. 
by Stanton Swihart
1. Beyond The Twelve Mile Zone - 2:34
2. Wonderous Fairy Tale - 3:35
3. Window Sill's Song - 2:22
4. Signs Of Invisible Chalk - 5:26
5. Sunday Raindrops - 3:01
6. Journey-Less Ride - 3:42
7. Seas Of Marshmellow Bees - 2:32
8. Look At The Children - 3:31
9. Tockless Time Morning - 3:21
10.Pink Painted Butterfly - 3:10
11.Sunshine Castles - 4:08
12.Purple Side Of Sunset - 3:09
13.The Jackal's Cry - 3:07
14.We Are Together Two - 1:57
15.A Moss Green Morning - 2:08
16.The Fall Of The Horses - 2:41
17.Frost At Twilight - 3:02
18.Big Blue Sky - 3:43
19.The Bell Of Juniper - 2:30
Music by Roland G. Antonelli, Lyrics by Joseph Ransohoff

Milkwood Tapestry
*Roland G. Antonelli - Guitar, Vocals
*Joseph Ransohoff - Maracas, Tambourine, Vocals