Reviews and pictures from Sietse's record collection
Since I first heard Fursaxa somewhere in 2003 or 2004 I had weak spot for her music. Mandrake (Acid Mothers Temple, 2000) was one of the first things, if not the first that I did hear. Already at that moment it was a release that was pretty difficult the find. Even after rerelease on vinyl in 2004 by Eclipse Records it had to stay on my wishlist for years.
Until a few weeks ago when I trade this LP with a friend for some stuff I had double. And I must say it was a really good choice this trading. It left two people happy with new music in the collection without having to spend a tremendous amount of money on discogs or eBay.
Fursaxa is the the musical project of Tara Burke from Philadelphia in the US. All her early releases, including this Mandrake, are lo-fi home recordings with guitar, electronic keyboards, accordion, dulcimer and her voice (on later releases she would also incorporate other instruments played by friends from the Philly scene…think of Espers).
Her music is classified as acid or freak folk and for a long time she was quite at the forefront of this scene working together with musicians like Six Organs Of Admittance, Bardo Pond, Charalambides and more, though she never really got the credits she deserved like those others did. But this is probably due to the lower productivity and maybe also the more lo-fi approach.
Mandrake, her first release, is one that is at first quite hard to get into due to the lo-fi recordings and the huge amount of (what I call) forest aesthetics (though others might call hippy or herbal tea influences). The music has a strange air to it, same as her lyrics when she sings about dragonflies and mother earth. It is all very down to nature without any pretentious feelings. But it is in such a way you wouldn’t associate it with new age or some religious form. Not only is there this natural sound to the music, sometimes a sudden sadness or melancholy also pops around. This makes the music at sometime grabbing you tight to never let go any more.
Mandrake is one of those hidden gems from the Freak Folk scene from a musician that never really got the attention she deserved. Hopefully someone will decide to eventually make a proper reissue of this album. Maybe it is something Fursaxa her new label ATP Recordings could do.
Listen to the track Mon Lion, one of my personal favourites:
Try your luck at Discogs to get yourself a copy.