A folk collection rich in texture and individuality that will reward anyone brave enough to enter its creator’s unique world
Madame Česki wrote and recorded Palimpsest whilst shut away from the world in an old Edwardian house. Within this environment, one which allowed her inspiration to flourish, she has made a debut album of folk chamber music which confounds and delights. Over the eight tracks, two of which are wholly instrumental, the Welsh musician steadily builds an atmosphere unlike anything else you’re likely to hear this year.
The record’s most peculiar song is Bone Spoon. Spoken words and off-key chants cut through whistles, saws and clinking percussion until a prolonged instrumental section establishes some order. “When the egg’s ready it will crack / so line up your soldiers from front and to back” Česki says at one point – a strangely fitting sentiment.
On the other side of the coin is Spinning Wheel, the least adventurous track on the album (which isn’t to say that it is unadventurous), where Česki’s cautious voice glides delightfully over the stark backing track. It is a moment of quiet contemplation amongst the experimental chaos and a welcome change of pace leading into the closing lullaby, Stories.
Though undoubtedly esoteric and challenging, Palimpsest also reveals itself to be a beautifully constructed homage to the freeing benefits of isolation. With only her imagination and instruments for company, Madame Česki has exorcised her creative demons and crafted something wholly unique.
Verdict: The sound of isolation at its most fertile