Ali Murray & Cornelius Corvidae – “Split EP” (2023)

The incredibly talented Ali Murray and Cornelius Corvidae have released a split EP, which consists of four stripped-down songs of dark gothic/psychedelic/cosmic folk music, with each artist offering two songs.

Corvidae’s “Silver Flower (Kali’s Invitation)” opens the EP with a psychedelic atmosphere from a hazy synth that drifts in and out amidst the hypnotic pickings of an acoustic guitar. He sings, “All my life I’ve been running away / In the wind I taste the grave of everything”. Occasional glockenspiel adornment injects a sense of contrasting brightness into the dark gothic cathedral of sound. Corvidae’s second song, “Shiva in the Blood Orchard,” begins with the words, “Time and space collide in me / Holding my soul / Every lifetime the same / Flesh is not my home / Let me go,” which is set against a backdrop of a chord progression of single guitar strums that culminate in a more melodic riff. The accented rhythm of the words follows the guitar, giving this and other sections a very strong sense of forward momentum. The deeply philosophical underpinnings of these two songs provide ample material for further rumination and interpretation.

Murray’s “Wish The Bones Away” opens with a short and sweetly-melancholic acoustic guitar loop that carries through to the very end of the song. Gentle and warm keys add a softness or cushion underneath the foreground from the start, “Find no meaning in the words / Nature revealing / A structure built to fail / The rusting of the rail”. Electric guitar enters in after the second verse and really heightens the melancholy. Near the end all of the instrumentation cuts out except for a quiet rhythmic element that’s maybe a looped hand-clap or foot-step, which had been there from the very beginning but becomes nearly imperceptible at times because of its hushed nature. It’s a beautiful and delicate wish: an ode to the bones that already lie buried and to those whose burial awaits. Closing the EP is Murray’s “Spirit of Unknowing,” which begins with the fleeting sound of the beating wings of a startled bird taking off before the plucked acoustic guitar comes in, “Tangles branches, silent forest / Coffins slowly rise / Words are hurting, dust like memories / Speckling our eyes / In the spirit of unknowing, I’ll lay low to the ground / Hiding from the lights that twinkle when no one is around”. Other guitar parts layered on top of the primary guitar pull and tug one along as if being pulled effortlessly out to sea by the tide. A soft, distant, looped pad comes in after the second verse, bringing greater feelings of melancholy and sadness – a kind of comforting sorrow perfectly summed up by this line from the third verse, “Another world eclipses this one / Will you wait for me there?”

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