The lighthouse has long been a favorite subject of folk music, a rich source of symbolism and paradox that evokes feelings of salvation, danger, refuge, distance, and isolation. In their new single, “The Lighthouse Lies Dark,” UK-based Neo-folk band Farlanders imagines what might happen if the tower’s lamps go dark, and what memories and storms must be weathered in the absence of its light.
“The Lighthouse Lies Dark” resists both description and comparison. It offers vocal harmonies like those of Fleet Foxes with a little jazz sprinkled in, melodies that are reminiscent of the 20th century English composer Benjamin Britten, and the evocative imagery and storytelling of a good Irish ballad. It resides in liminal space between folk song and art song, a sort of folksy avant-garde. The instruments may be fairly standard (guitar, fiddle, piano, maraca and tambourine), but somehow they sound as though you have never heard them before.
Farlanders play by their own rules, challenging almost every imaginable convention of songwriting, and doing so with wild success. The song’s form is disjunct, with highly asymmetrical sections. The transitions are surprising, the interludes jut out like rocks near the shore, and its soundscape is an unpredictable mosaic of instruments and styles. In less competent hands, this could spell disaster, but with Farlanders’ unbridled creativity, skill, and penchant for risk taking, it results in a deeply individualistic and powerful statement.
By suspending your expectations and allowing each unexpected twist and turn to wash over you, you will be in for an unparalleled experience.
“The Lighthouse Lies Dark” is available on all major streaming platforms.
Written by Jacob Jahiel