Freak Folk

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16.09.2012 - 22:57
Probably not the most accessible and known genre of contemporary folk.

Freak Folk is related to the New Weird America movement of which Devendra Banhart is probably one of the best known artists.

Freak Folk is best known for its use of folk characteristics, using all kinds of instruments, and combining this with experimental elements. Mostly elements like drones, but sometimes also noise.
This often results in a trance-like mood that can go on for a long time. Moods can range from a cosy campfire, to a hypnotic dance, or to complete space music with little human or earth-like sounds in it.
There are, of course, differences in the genre itself. Some artists decide to incorporate more pop-influences and others add more elements from funk.

One of the best examples that I myself have just discovered and would really like to share here is TwinSisterMoon, one half of Natural Snow Buildings. Click here for the song 'Spells'

Another band that has unfortunately disbanded only some time ago, but is well-known within this genre is Espers: Click here for the song 'Dead King'.

And to close it off, one other big name from the genre: Six Organs of Admittance: School of the Flower

These three examples should illustrate quite well what Freak Folk is about.
Anyone else familiar with this? Someone else just loves this just as much as I do? Anyone new to it and liking it?
Share your opinions and favorite artists that you think might fit in here, here!
23.10.2012 - 13:37
I just heard it, and I gotta say I'm impressed.
28.10.2012 - 22:36
Sangre Sani
Just like Sophist said above. It's damn good! Thank you mate!
04.11.2012 - 00:29
Nice to read these replies! Thanks!

Some additions:

Wooden Wand, a bit more relaxed, more traditional, but always with a certain atmosphere. His voice adds a lot to this. Spiritual Inmate

Hala Strana, a project by Steven R Smith. I really started to appreciate this since last summer. He is really versatile. His 'Hala Strana' project is just great, based on traditional music from Eastern Europe. I just love the use of the traditional instruments in these songs. Pogonishte and Villages

And to continue in the style of TwinSisterMoon here is something by Natural Snow Buildings. They combine ambient soundscapes with great freak-folkish music styles: Dance of the Moon and the Sun

And to finish it off, my personal biggest heroes: Animal Collective. I've never really heard any band with such energetic creative songs. Although I'm not really sure you could still label them 'freak folk' nowadays (They would fit the label 'animal collective' better), they did make some interesting things in the past that would 'fit' the label.
Songs like Grass, Who Could Win A Rabbit, Banshee Beat, Water Curses

And please do add your own favorites if you're familiar with this!
21.12.2012 - 01:14
Never really got into this genre enough to even see it as a unified genre. Don't really know what it takes to be freak folk. (Think it's pretty much the same as free folk, and some kind of development of psychedelic folk in general.)

Espers are good. But TwinSisterMoon is the bomb. Heard the new album, Bogyrealm Vessels? Love their blend of ambient with folk. You might like Mirrorring too, a collaboration between Grouper and Tiny Vipers. There's nothing particularly freaky about it, but it's in very similar ambient/folk vein.
21.12.2012 - 10:17
Ah yes, I know Grouper and Mirrorring. They're very good!
I'm a sucker with genres I guess. It's probably mostly because of wikipedia putting these bands in these kind of styles.
I can't really find something about 'free folk' so I don't really know how close that might be to freak folk.
Psychedelic Folk is essentially something originated from the sixties and I don't really think that this same style is similar with the contemporary bands that I mentioned.
I think that if you listen to Six Organs of Admittance you get a good sense of what I generally think of as being 'freak folk'.
But this genre, yeah... it's quite vague when you try to really define it in words. But it just doesn't cover it when I tell someone I like folk, because I do not like -all- folk.
21.12.2012 - 13:14
Mm, googling around it seems to be pretty ambigious.

RYM doesn't recognize Freak Folk, but they have a systematizing tendency to not use overlapping, superfluous labels and just vote on one. (There's no post-metal, for example.) suggests Freak Folk is the more commonly used label, but also that it encompasses more than just the very abstract and ambient forms. Joanna Newsom, really? I really like her, but it's pretty bogstandard indie folk. With Free Folk, I've always thought of artists who make very abstract, structureless music rooted in folk. Ilyas Ahmed in particular, and those 588 taggers seem to agree on that.

But yes, I think it's clear enough what we're talking about, whatever turns out to survive as the established label. I'll have to check out these Six Organs of Admittance guys, never heard them before.
23.12.2012 - 00:38
Thanks for those links, I was really just looking at wikipedia, and there it doesn't even have an article.
But yeah, maybe the name 'free folk' suits the whole thing much better. Ah well...
I see on RYM that they even mention Sunburned Hand of the Man, that is quite interesting. I was actually doubting to mention them here, but I wasn't sure because when it comes to their sound you wouldn't really call it like this. Guess I have to check out this 'Spires that in the sunset rise'.

Six Organs is just one guy by the way, Ben Chasny, he is quite awesome.