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Pefkin - Under the Radar

  by Keith How

published: 10 / 4 / 2020

Pefkin - Under the Radar


In 'Under the Radar', in which he searches out under-rated bands and acts, Keith How examines Scottish sound collagist/experimental musician Pefkin and her latest album, 'Celestial Navigations'.

Pefkin (Gayle Brogan) (musician, photographer, naturalist, member of the Electroscope, Kitchen Cynics, Burd Ellen, collaborator and traveller) is a sonic explorer who is always on the move. Her experimental and beautiful sound collages transport anyone fortunate enough to come under her spell into different realms and spaces. 'Celestial Navigations' is the result of a Pefkin performance at the Oy Festival on the Scottish Island of Papa Westray in 2018. A sense of timelessness pervades the five tracks on this lovely record. Full of layered textures and emotion, the journey Pefkin invites us to encounter is as mysterious as it is intriguing. Title track 'Celestial Navigations' is underpinned by a three note motif that allows Brogan to add haunting vocals and ethereal noises to the drone. She is assisted by long term friend John Cavanagh who adds spacey synths that swirl and bubble around you as the composition enfolds the listener in a dream like state. 'Tulungusaq' follows. A delicate ambient drone brings you into a magical place highlighting Gayle’s lovely haunting vocals. Side one closes in a similar manner with 'Numenius Borealis' where the textured beauty and space vocal combine with a surreal quality. The feeling of space and heavenly expanses is totally captivating. 'I am John Rae' finds Cavanagh on guitar working on some cosmic ambient blues. He picks out a repetitive riff and adds harmonics and phased guitar that enables Pefkin’s vocals to enchant with an otherworldly magic spell. This is possibly the album’s masterpiece? The closing cut is the epic 'Aurora Borealis'. Conjuring up visions of the Northern Lights, frozen landscapes and lost vast horizons we embark on another journey travelling through a cosmic wonderland. 'Borealis' contains a tension that is new to the whole album. The atmosphere is slightly ominous but in a good way as the piece builds from a minimal start. Layers of violin and synthesizer open up vast fields of stars and space in the imagination. Listening by candlelight with a good single malt is recommended. This is something special. 'Celestial Navigations' is strange, magical and beguiling and not to be overlooked.

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Pefkin - Under the Radar

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