After the past few years, the unexpected has become something to dread. Something that wasn’t previously known or anticipated pops up and it’s cause for concern, not celebration. You can forget that sometimes, it’s a whole lotta fun to receive a surprise.
Luckily, Rising Appalachia is here to provide that pleasant reminder. With no announcement or rollout, the group has released its latest LP, The Lost Mystique of Being in the Know, today. Self-recorded and produced in a day last December after the group reconvened for the first time in nearly a year, it’s a testament to their exuberance and spontaneous creativity.
Rising Appalachia began the recording process with fragments and ideas and put the songs together on the fly, letting the tracks reveal themselves and come together organically. It makes sense, as the nine tracks on The Lost Mystique of Being in the Know manage to balance abstractions and free-flowing arrangements with a delicate, natural touch.
Take album opener “Catalyst” for example. There’s not much in the way of formal verse-chorus-verse lyrics, just a couple of lines for sisters Chloe and Leah Smith to harmonize and play off of with each other, which they do expertly. Sonically, it relies on a repetitive melody for six minutes, but combined with the gorgeous vocals, the result is an enchanting and hypnotic piece of work.
“Silver” is a fantastic snapshot of Rising Appalachia’s folk-meets-world-music style. Biko Casini’s beat is insistent, indebted to West African rhythmic structures. The Smith sisters’ guitar and banjo playing are rooted in the American folk tradition. Combined, these elements are seamlessly woven together on “Silver” (and succeeding track “Tempest”) and serve to create an overall soundscape that manages to sound alternately familiar and exotic.
Sometimes, the group plays it straight. Coming in at just over seven minutes, “Lost Girl” is a fantastic instrumental. Chloe’s fiddle playing stands out on it, adding a gorgeous layer of emotional depth to the song’s pretty melody.
The Lost Mystique of Being in the Know concludes with “Depth,” which offers up a little bit of something for everyone. There’s lengthy musical interludes, exquisite harmonies, and experimental spoken word portions. It’s an odyssey and provides a strong cap on this surprise, strong release.