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Fariña - The Undercliff Suite

  by John Clarkson

published: 22 / 10 / 2019

Fariña - The Undercliff Suite
Label: Hanky Panky Records
Format: Tape


Low-key but evocative return from trio Fariña with tape-only release, the soundtrack to member Mark Brend's debut novel

Fariña was a gorgeous-in-sound baroque pop act, who released two albums, ‘Two People’ (Pickled Egg, 2006) and ‘Allotments’ (Pickled Egg, 2011). Now after a long absence, it has reformed and is making a low-key return on the Spanish label Hanky Panky Records with ‘The Undercliff Suite’, a cassette-only, limited-to-fifty copies soundtrack to its member Mark Brend’s debut novel, ‘Undercliff’. Brend and his two bandmates Matt Gale and Cliff Glanfield are all multi-instrumentalists, and ‘The Undercliff Suite’ involves an autoharp, dulcimer, melodica, ukulele, accordion, fluegelhorn and trumpet as well as guitars, drums and percussion, piano and keyboards. A compelling oddity, ‘Undercliff’ falls between being a psychological thriller, tale of doomed romance and terrifying supernatural horror story. Taking place in late 1972 and early 1973, it tells of Martyn Hope, a thirty-something aspiring writer, who joins a religious cult The Olive Grove where he becomes romantically involved with Amelia, an enigmatic young Belgium woman. When Amelia suddenly breaks off their relationship and shortly afterwards vanishes, Martyn, who has become disillusioned with The Olive Grove, is convinced that the answer to her disappearance lies somewhere within the grounds of Undercliff, a secluded Devon coast retreat owned by the cult. The instrumental five-track ‘The Undercliff Suite’ has the same haunting evocativeness as the book. The sparse opening ‘Undercliff 1973’, with a striking use of softly popping keyboards and melodica, captures the eerie and desolate beauty of Undercliff. The chiming, winding ‘Jenny’s Waltz’ provides the backdrop to a scene at a New Year’s Eve party which Martyn and Amelia joyously attend at Undercliff, before their romance comes to its abrupt and sinister end. ‘Hollow/Sea’ uses blasts of horn and plucking shimmers of keyboard and guitar to portray the expansiveness of the Devon coastline. The rattling, brassy ‘Ceremony’ evokes a Maundy Thursday religious service which takes place at the climax of ‘Undercliff’, while ‘Resurgam’, at just over two minutes in length the longest of the five pieces, with a brooding, slow piano at its core, provides a fitting coda in which Martyn as an old man looks back at the end of the novel on The Olive Grove. ‘The Undercliff Suite’ will inevitably be best appreciated by those who have read Mark Brend’s excellent novel, but, packed with ideas despite its running time of less than ten minutes, stands alone as a piece of music and will hopefully draw new readers in. A welcome return from this under-rated band!

Track Listing:-
1 Undercliff, 1973
2 Jenny's Waltz
3 Hollow-Sea
4 Ceremony
5 Resurgam

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