The term "folk music" is a strange one. Originally it meant the music of the everyday man or indigenous peoples, music that was "common" in the best sense of the world.
It was also a music that needed preserving in our modern times.
But this preservation led to a following and this following lead to contemporary singers and musicians adopting instrumentation and stylings that they felt was representative of "folk" music. As such people like Bob Dylan weren't real folk musicians the moment they started writing their own songs. The minute that happened folk music became *something else*.
And Lux Interna are definitely something else. This San Francisco based five piece work acoustic instruments and mournful, moody voices into remarkable songs that echo folk music.
But their instrumentation can be misleading. Katherine Tremble is an amazing cello player, but the cello is an instrument of chamber music and drawing rooms, not of folk music.
So what are Lux Interna? The term neo-folk has been bandied about for over a decade now, long enough to take on it's own cultural baggage. But neo-folk is often simple and intentionally plain.
Lux Interna are not. The songs found on [a lantern carried in blood and skin] are meticulously crafted and the instruments are weaved together into a stirring orchestration. Yes, we encounter mandolin and concertina on these songs but this is still the work of a genteel hand, not of the calloused work-man's fingers.
And Lux Interna are all the better for it. Now that we cast aside folk music we can really listen. The dark richness of this recording collection finds its closest kin with goth music. The songs are haunting and beautiful. Joshua L.I. Gentzke's vocal's are sonorous and intentionally unsubtle. Kathryn Gentzke's voice is soft and restrained, counterpointing Joshua's. While the music may be dark (as the band and the CD's name implies) there is luminescence that shines through.
The end result is something that is both ominous and delicate. Like a spirit left clinging to the mortal world intent on delivering one last whisper, yet capable of being dispelled by sideways glance.
If you're new to the band don't worry, [a lantern carried in blood and skin] is their first American issued release and happens to contain work from their previous issues. As such it's a perfect place to catch up with Lux Interna.