Eartheater creates fey folk for lush and terrifying rituals | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Eartheater creates fey folk for lush and terrifying rituals 

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click to enlarge Alexandra Drewchin

Alexandra Drewchin

Sam Clarke

As a genre designation, “folk music” can mean a wide variety of things, including early rural Americana, politicized revival strumming, and weird psychedelia. Alexandra Drewchin, who makes music as Eartheater, doesn’t really fit in any of those categories. Instead she approaches folk as chthonic, atavistic druid witchery, making gentle music for sacrificing goats—complete with buzzing electronic flourishes that crawl across the steaming flesh. To those familiar with Eartheater’s rituals, the new album Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin (PAN) won’t appear to break new sonic ground, though Drewchin shifts her focus a bit from electronic to acoustic sounds—for instance, she commissioned Spain’s Ensemble de Cámara to provide chamber music backing. On songs such as “Goodbye Diamond,” “Diamond in the Bedrock,” and “Volcano,” she evokes geological imagery, revealing a new, more literal fascination with the “earth” in her name. Longtime collaborator Marilu Donovan of Brooklyn experimental duo Leya contributes lovely, ominous harp, and Drewchin’s voice swoops and dives with its usual chilling purity. While Eartheater isn’t entirely without precedent—the likes of Comus and Spires That in the Sunset Rise have also reveled in the dissonance of fey pagan lullabies—the odd lushness of her aesthetic and her consistent vision remain singular. It’s as if she’s channeling the music of a feral race of cyborg demigods waiting to be reborn.   v

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