Langan, Frost & Wane debuts with psych folk album and Wilkes-Barre concert on Aug. 15
From a press release:
Langan, Frost & Wane is the collaboration of three ambitious songwriters writing in the folk tradition and drawing candidly from the folk revival of the mid-20th century.
It began as a vessel for Brian Langan (Langan) and RJ Gilligan (Frost) to explore a territory they otherwise had no outlet for in their music. While Langan’s past work with psychedelic indie rock bands The SW!MS in Scranton and Needle Points in Philadelphia was geared more towards well-crafted pop and boogie, Frost’s output from Philly bands Meddlesome Bells and Dark Web was heavier, more riffs – more punk. It was in Langan, Frost, & Wane that they found a common ground.
As work on the album began, themes emerged. What is it that allows a song to be playful, yet somber? How can the music tell a story on its own, apart from words? It was the same territory that the wild raucous flutes found on early Incredible String Band records occupied, or better still, the second half of Donovan’s 1967 album “A Gift from a Flower to a Garden.” They set about to capture it.
Frost ran a small studio and field recording label in Philadelphia, Bells Records, allowing the duo to dive into different tracking arrangements and experimentations, building out each song organically over a period of time. After wrapping up a season of sessions, Frost suggested Nam Wayne (Wane) to Langan as a possible third collaborator. Wane and Frost had been trading folk songs for some time, and it became clear he was on a similar quest. After an evening of impromptu songwriting among the three, it was settled and the project solidified.
“I’m so so proud of it. I had a bunch of beverages with my buddy RJ around a fire at our house, and we talked about a certain type of music that we love and we don’t hear much of – castle-y, kinda spooky, catchy folk-inspired music like mid/late-’60s Donovan/Incredible String Band. So we got together and made music like that as best we could and are plum pleased with the results. RJ suggested we get his friend Nam involved, and he has the smoothest ’70s ‘Sesame Street’ voice. It fit great. It’s the most collaborative thing I’ve been a part of,” Langan told NEPA Scene in a recent interview.
“It’s very different for me because there’s no loud guitars or drums, really. I sing in a low register and attempt to finger pick. There’s all kinds of instruments I didn’t know existed on it!”
The group is driven by Langan and Frost’s finger-plucked melodies on guitar, complemented with found sound, instrumentation of the Middle and Far East, India, the Mediterranean, and Appalachia. Integrated with the lilting guitars are bouzouki, mandolin, harpsichord, flutes, violin, and organ. Langan, Frost & Wane has achieved something truly remarkable – a style as familiar as it is un-categorizable, it is truly cohesive despite their wide array of influences. The band embodies a through line that takes a listener from the sounds of Donovan and Bert Jansch to current performers like Cate Le Bon and Khruangbin.
The visionary songwriters believe that they succeeded in what they set out to do on their self-titled debut album, released on July 23 via Nashville’s Goldstar Recordings. This body of work is the culmination of those long hours spent searching for what is not lost, but perhaps sometimes forgotten.
The opener of these 15 tracks, “Perhaps the Sorcerer,” features ethereal vocal harmonies alongside bouzouki, mandolin, and flutes. The first single, “King Laughter,” combines Middle Eastern-tinged ascending guitar lines and percussion, blending seamlessly with traditional folk, but gently twisted with psych rock fuzziness.
Langan, Frost & Wane will play these songs and more live for the first time in Langan’s hometown area of Northeastern Pennsylvania on Sunday, Aug. 15. The trio will be opening for Tigers Jaw with A Fire With Friends starting at 3 p.m. at Karl Hall (57 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre) as part of the venue’s “Out Back at Karl Hall” outdoor concert series.
Tickets, which are $25, are on sale now via Eventbrite.
Read NEPA Scene’s Q&A with Langan before his reunion with The SW!MS back in June here.