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The Milkweed Society logo across a dark urban landscape

Milkweed – Folklore 1979, a review

Explore the haunting depths of Milkweed's Folklore 1979, a cassette that intertwines eerie folk music with psychological horror for a uniquely unsettling experience.

Folklore 1979 by Milkweed - the cover looks like an old Folklore Journal cover
Release Date
28 February 2024
Milkweed - Folklore 1979
Folklore 1979 by Milkweed is a disturbing, fascinating cassette that evokes psychological turmoil through unsettling music and eerie vocals. It's a short, intense journey into darkness, blending folklore and horror, challenging the listener with its sinister, innovative sound.

Something is dreadfully, horribly wrong. Things are broken and scattered, brutally chopped and gleefully mangled. This, whatever this is, is not right at all. 

This is Folklore 1979, the third cassette release by “slacker-trad” duo, Milkweed, and it’s as peculiar, as uncomfortable, as thrilling as anything that you’ve ever heard.

Anyone that saw Lankum on their recent tour may have reeled away from the venue profoundly changed, with a feeling that something good had been removed from you, replaced by something altogether more sinister. It was hard to put a finger on exactly what had happened but, as the drones and creaks – the violent noise – caused a sea-sickness of the brain, it felt as though psychological damage had been done; that a fissure had been opened, never to be closed again.

Milkweed have found that tear and, with this album, are pouring their own psychological poison straight into your synapses. It’s scary. And it hurts.

If folk music is supposed to reflect our society, then Milkweed are telling us that we’re in a right old mess

This is the third strange scrap unearthed from the tangled world of Milkweed – newly signed to Broadside Hacks‘ label – and the third that feels like an oddly important artifact, one discovered in the dustiest corner of the most obscure museum, in the furthest flung part of Albion. At just 11 minutes long it is, like its predecessors, a small amount of music lurking at the doorway, clutching a great tumble of ideas.

‘My Father’s Sheep is Dead’ starts with broken and crunched beats, glass underfoot. A voice emerges through the tape hiss. Distorted. High. Odd. The vocalist, known simply as G, carries the lifeblood of Radie Peat if her voice had been buried deep for a thousand years, then excavated and cursed. Soil merely brushed off, not cleaned properly. It is the sound of a forgotten far-Eastern temple, one where only the bleakest of rituals have ever taken place.

Trapped between the longer pieces of music are hallucinatory, smashed things. The buzz and whirr of flies as they become trapped in amber. Samples of speech. The sound of Bedouin bazaars slow-sped-slowed. Howls of anguish. Clicks and clacks. Skriks and skraks. 

Milkweed say that all of the texts that are wrapped by their eerie incantations are taken from Folklore Volume 90 1979 ii. This is probably true. The Folklore Journal is the publication of the Folklore Society. It is, probably, very strange indeed.

The longest piece on this continuous mixtape is ‘Mordred, King Arthur’s Son’. Guitar fades in and out as though through a broken speaker. There’s a malfunctioning heartbeat, a dark tale of olden days, imaginings, re-imaginings, wakenings, re-awakenings. There’s a high voice – it is singular, found. As you emerge from its embrace you feel changed, sent elsewhere, as though you’ve accidentally slipped through a tear, a crack, a fissure.

As Folklore 1979 comes to an end you’d swear that someone has snuck into your Walkman and has set fire to the tape (…but that can’t be… this is a file… modern and indestructible…isn’t it?) The music flickers and is consumed by unseen tongues of fire. ‘The Tree as a Kinship Symbol’ is nagging, fuzzy. If this is kinship then it’s a warning that your dead will haunt you forever. Not folk horror. Just actual horror.

If folk music is supposed to reflect our society, then Milkweed (and Lankum) are telling us that we’re in a right old mess. If those old gods exist, and these incantations call them forth, then it might be worth a chat.

There is a very real possibility that Milkweed are making the most interesting, most unsettling, most wonderful folk music around. Worth unearthing. 

Folklore 1979 by Milkweed is available via Broadside Hacks. It can be ordered from their Bandcamp page.