Personnel: Robin Crutchfield (harp, lyre, tanpura, percussion, bells, sampler).
Recording information: The Treehouse.
Without looking at the name written on the sleeve it would be impossible to believe this album was the work of Robin Crutchfield, former member of downtown N.Y.C. no wave band DNA. There is none of that group's jagged, high-tension art-splatter on The Hidden Folk; instead, this is a very creepy disc of short instrumentals performed on harp, zither, percussion, and other objects made of wood and string. It's not folk music, exactly; it's closer in spirit to the instrumental interludes that appear on some black metal albums. Tape hiss and weird panning effects give some tracks the effect of field recordings captured in some darkened forest, while others sound like acoustic versions of early-'80s work by the Residents ("Mind the Dwarves," a short piece for either marimba or music box, could easily have come off one of the Mole Trilogy albums). Taken as a whole, immersive experience, The Hidden Folk feels like the score to a horror movie about city folk lost in -- and eventually consumed by -- the woods: something like the original version of The Wicker Man. When a sudden rattle goes off midway through "Pearl Sorting Pixies," most listeners will undoubtedly jump in their chairs. Unsettling stuff. ~ Phil Freeman