Like the omnipresent influence of 1960’s on culture in general, folk rock continues to develop into a knarled, knotted modern version of itself. Songs that bleed out of tradition, myth, history and nature feel like missives from the past that can often feel just as pertinent in our weirdly dystopia-tinged present day.
Whilst the drone has always been a component at folk rocks heart, over the decades, there is perhaps an overall swing towards a fuller embracing of the form. The work of P.G Six or Flying Saucer Attack as two of the countless illuminated examples of the evolving genre, but still retaining an achingly beautiful ruralism.
This soon to be issued vinyl release by the London duo – The Left Outsides (Alison Cotton and Mark Nicholas) immediately invites a quick neural flythrough of all these touch points and more. A Place to Hide, in fact captures the couples live performance as a support to Robyn Hitchcock.
The opener My Reflection Once Was Me, slowly fills the room with buzzing harmonium like mist rolling in across the moor. Cotton’s voice drifting in like a procession slowly appearing through the haze.
The next 8 minutes retrace the traditional song Young Girl Cut Down in Her Prime, perhaps best known as having been covered by Dolly and Shirley Collins. Gradually the entire song, bathed in spectres, becomes engulfed in swelling guitar reverberations and swirling strings.
All That Remains has the shuffling groove of the studio version stripped back to its essence. The duos voices entwining in the mirage of feedback that’s somehow present but unheard.
Down to The Waterside describes ripples and eddies in a saw-toothing drone before gathering around a rising violin blossom. Rock almost reveals itself in the concise grooving of Naming Shadows Was Your Existence.
As a final confirmation that the rarefied ambience created so far is indeed jewel encrusted, new light is shone on The 13th Floor Elevators wondrous Splash #1. The original Texan vulnerability switched into some dewy English lane.
The entire album opens up a space that belies its relatively brief 35-minute life. The music is skeletal, but every sound feels like a beautifully considered and placed marker in time. Over time, the music often performs a weird trick where you begin to hear elements that are merely suggested by what’s actually played. Music balanced in the living breathing moment between the past and the future.
Ultimately, A Place to Hide builds a beautiful and hugely thoughtful modern-day sanctuary around anyone that choses to listen.