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ZAAM - Acid Folk

ZAAM - Acid FolkZAAM came about when Bert D'hooge was helping out Mark C. Lee Riley and Nigel Parrington back in 1998.  Bert wanted to explore longer songs and five years later in 2003, he headed to Milnsbridge, Huddersfield UK to collaborate with Mark on Acid Folk.  All but the title track was recorded at Milsbridge in 2003 (Acid Folk itself being recorded in Belgium and featuring Nigel Parrington on Piano and Harmonica).

Acid Folk (the album) falls into the category of , wait for it... acid folk (the genre), a style which is not easily explained.  You could say that it is a personal form of expression that re-invents the folk style without being experimental in the melodies.  Whilst psychedelic folk is a different genre, acid folk can sometimes, in a sense, have a similar 'mind-bending' feel to it.  Actually the more I listen to this album, the more I think it has a foot in both the acid and psych folk camps.

The album starts with a short 18thC harpsichord sounding piece, delicate and simplistic and like I was trying to explain above, conventional yet unusual.  The title track is a real treat with gentle vocals, acoustic strumming in the foreground with electric guitar exploring the background - laid back, relaxing and very interesting.

After the first two tracks, the album progressively enters deeper into a 'trippy' phase which, again, is very relaxing, and by the fourth track, Spring Of Sap,  is almost free form bar the stabilising effect of a semi-prominent strummed note and background keyboard that cycles through a determinable melody.  Some narration in Dutch (I think) and vocalisations in the background add a sort of Zappa dimension.

Apathetic Bluesman dips back to the sixties like some strange re-hash of a Beatles number, almost bad pop, but amusingly 'apathetic' as the title suggests.

Ever seen the Clint Eastwood film, A Fistful Of Dollars?  Beyond The Beyond conjures up images of the film for me especially the long dialogue free scenes looking out over the arid landscape.  Nice organ sounds from the halfway point.

Ketchup Met Fritten (I personally prefer salad cream on mine) has a cool bouncier and slightly faster moving beat relatively speaking, maintaining the laid-back feel and having the best vocal piece on the album reminiscent of early Pink Floyd.  Mark adds some narration round the halfway point which leans towards the sort of diatribe (I am told) I come out with on occasions.  Another good track.

Way In started the album and Way Out brings it to a close.  Similar to the start but with church organ replacing the harpsichord sound, which 'deflates' at the end, a great way to finish.

Is this an album you would enjoy?  If you're into acid/psych folk, definitely.  If you don't like anything that veers from the paths of bands like ELP, Jethro Tull and Genesis, probably not.  If you have never heard any acid folk and have a varied taste in music and an open mind, and want  a relaxing album, give it a try.  I like it.

Jem Jedrzejewski

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