Alison Cotton - Only Darkness Now
Limited Edition Silver Vinyl - 300 Pressing on Friendly Recordings
Released 5th November 2021
With the steady gliding viola & the early introduction of choral forces, Only Darkness Now is a more alive, peopled landscape than its predecessor. The mood remains contemplative and concerns itself with medieval themes and vivid, poetic depictions of Gothic and historical netherworlds & torment – we see this in the extended album centrepiece 'Behind the Spiderweb Gate' and in 'In Solitude I Will Fade Away' along with bleeding hearts and a hollow hill. However, Only Darkness Now despite its title has a brighter expanse than the stillness achieved on her debut. Here Cotton envelops the listener with layers of viola, chimes & Omnichord - an electrical ghost-like medieval drone, alongside percussion, harmonium, piano & voice. The higher registers of her viola flicker and glide throughout like a dancing pagan ritual or ceremonial fire caught on wavering sepia tinged film. If it weren't for the disruption of last year ODN would've surely gained a wider audience, sitting comfortably alongside the new classical scores of Max Richter. This is a confident record; Cotton's voice washes in layers with occasional tense, sparse passages that position her compositions in early music, medieval and folk traditions away from the more populist neo-classicism. To illustrate her widening reach as a performer Cotton lifts album closer Shirt of Lace, by medieval revivalist and experimental dulcimer player Dorothy Carter, from a Celtic lament to cathedral like grandeur.
Originally a cassette release on Bloxham Tapes with a limited vinyl pressing by Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube sold out almost instantly with little press. One expects this'll be the last chance to own Alison's masterful second album on the cusp of her next forward looking steps...
Coloured vinyl & altered artwork by Luke Drozd