Stone Breath - Spear of Flame, Horse of Air LP
Wryrd folk from Pennsylvania, released by Brave Mysteries Recording Co.
Stone Breath have made records of traditional songs before, (usually under the name of The Spectral Light and Moonshine Firefly Snakeoil Jamboree), but those had been fairly straightforward interpretations: songs from Appalachia and the UK learned directly from other musicians in person or on recordings. With "Spear of Flame, Horse of Air" Stone Breath digs in a little deeper, pulls these songs apart and breathes new life into them. They have been arranged and rearranged making them uniquely part of the Stone Breath canon. From their first release in 1995, Stone Breath have always sounded ageless, timeless and priceless. Yet somehow it is on this LP, in their 18th year of existence, that one can truly hear the value which the passing years have imbued upon the souls of these musicians. The group sounds more advanced, mature, and deeper than ever before. Apparent is their powerful drive brought forth from a passionate focus which could only come with the truly seasoned wisdom Stone Breath has accumulated. The warmth of the heavy-weight vinyl and the beautifully present recording-style gives the impression that Stone Breath sit and play these songs among you, filling whatever space in which the record may be spinning with their glorious colors and inspired harmony.
Stone Breath's typical arsenal of strictly acoustic instruments is present, skillfully manipulated to sing the ancient melodies. The essential elements of clawhammer banjo, celtic harp, lute-guitar, banjola, et. al., are blended seamlessly with harmonized male and female vocals. Though most of these songs are very old, there is something new to be discovered here as well. Picture the reverence of folk traditionalists mixing freely with the ambition and inspiration of the classic progressive folk sounds of the late 60s. In a way unlike any other band, Stone Breath gracefully weave together, through all their craft, the themes of their highly intricate and personal spirituality. This is a real and palpable sanctity that appears essentially present in both the lives of these musicians and the art they've issued forth. In this way "Spear of Flame, Horse of Air" is thus far the true pinnacle of their Great Work. It is truly a joy to hear that, as they are about to enter into their third decade, Stone Breath are only now revealing the height of their powers.