‘I’ve always liked the idea that we as humans each have a tailored set of principles with which we try to navigate our way through life. When a bird first begins its life within the safe confines of its nest, its first instinct is to look upwards and study the arrangement of stars from its own unique location. It will then store a mental image of this, its own personal ‘Star Map’, and use it to navigate from then on.’ REBECCA PALIN, GOLDEN FABLE
As statements go, ‘Star Map’, the debut album from Golden Fable is particularly strident. An album that relies on subtleties, multi-instrumental layers and harmonised voices may not seem to immediately tick that particular box but in its very subtlety lies the album’s strength.
Golden Fable are Rebecca Palin and Tim McIver, she the possessor of the angelic voice that shines throughout the record’s ten tracks, he the producer and writer of the songs. Both play a seemingly inexhaustible list of instruments across the album. Recorded at their home in the foothills of the Welsh mountains, ‘Star Map’ is unashamedly linked to the natural world around it, inspired by the glowering mountains that overlook their cottage and the forests and fields that skirt it.
The influences on ‘Star Map’ may be organic but the process of creating it was thoroughly modern. Building beats from samples and layering sounds in their home studio, Tim and Rebecca looked to the likes of Four Tet and Caribou for inspiration in creating the rhythmic spines of the tracks before inverting this modernity by reaching for guitars, pianos, clarinets, glockenspiels and more to develop melody lines. The recording process was both experimental and intuitive, the computer, in Tim’s words ‘being treated as another instrument as we found our way around the software and experimented with different sounds and textures’. In marked contrast to this modernity, the songwriting craft of Bert Jansch and Leo Kottke, the classicism of Tarrega and Sergovia and Rebecca’s choral upbringing within and without the church drove the melodies alongside a childhood listening to the likes of artists as diverse as Bonny Prince Billy, David Bowie and The Cure.
Perhaps this is why ‘Star Map’ defies easy categorisation, managing to bring to mind both the pastoral and the industrial as dance grooves and funk guitar stabs alternate with acoustic laments across the album.
Alongside the self-contained recording process runs a defence of localism in the wider practice of Golden Fable. ‘Sugarloaf’, the new single from the album, is named after the local mountain that provides the backdrop to the Green Man Festival and was inspired by an ascent to its summit. EPs
and the album itself will be delivered in handmade sleeves of limited quantities featuring artwork from local artists, videos are filmed in the surrounding countryside by local film makers and many of the instruments played on ‘Star Map’ are sourced from a local collector who rescues old and unique pieces. Present throughout the wider Golden Fable collective is that fundamental connection with the local landscape as Rebecca explains:
‘With the help of a small creative team of friends and family we have produced our own recordings, artwork and packaging, videos, costumes and stage props. All of these have connections to nature in some way’.
Live, Golden Fable become a visual representation of their inspirations. Flashes of silver make-up hint at an otherworldly mindset akin to Bowie’s Ziggy, leaves and feathers adorn clothes and hair linking back to the natural world and the myths and legends of the valleys and mountains which provide the backbone of their lyrical inspirations and the stage is set with instruments both ancient and ultra-modern.