Fri May 13
1 SW 3rd
"My voice was given to me as an instrument for inspiration for my friends, and as a tool of torture and destruction to my enemies."--DIAMANDA GALAS
It's with this quote that the biographical section of faunfables.net concludes--a succinct assessment of what is without doubt the most polarizing aspect of Oakland's Faun Fables. It's a voice that's rasped and sinewy, and fueled by a lung capacity powerful enough to burst a hot water bottle. It's a voice with flecks of Grace Slick--had the Jefferson Airplane traded their more strained rock edges for a gig as a cabaret band. It's the voice of Dawn "The Faun" McCarthy--and it's only the first hurdle.
Upon exiting the cabaret scene of New York in 1997, McCarthy took up a presumably mystical journey as a traveling minstrel (no, for real) throughout Europe for a year, a maiden odyssey documented in Faun Fables' 1998 debut, Early Song. Soaked up in a myriad of European influence, the music of Early Song was primarily a sparse, dramatic folk affair--one that completely defies the gentleness that such adjectives might suggest. Its follow-up, the hyper-theatrical Mother Twilight, solidified McCarthy's vision--a combination of Shakespearean fantasy, mystic minstrelism, and freak-folk otherworldliness. There is nothing plain nor aimless in Dawn McCarthy's folk vision--every corner feels fantastically focused.
Mother Twilight caught the attention of Drag City, who have since reissued the record, along with last year's Family Album. Don't let the logo of a modish indie fool you, however--the music of Faun Fables shares very little with the winking, painfully self-aware theatricality of the freak-folk movement. Faun Fables are, in fact, theatrical in the absolutely least hip sense of the word--drama club, Tolkien theatrical--and, it seems, deathly sincere. Because of this, Dawn The Faun's approach feels much more at home within the esoteric realms of her now-frequent collaborator Nils Frykdahl (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Idiot Flesh) than amidst the Nylon-ready Williamsburg "freaks" in dashikis--much more likely to be pumped out of, say, an organic co-op than spun between bands at the Doug Fir. Because, for better or worse, Faun Fables are the real fucking deal.