Erland and the Carnival may have hijacked their name from miserablist folk singer Jackson C. Frank's "My Name Is Carnival," and lead singer Erland Cooper might stoke his music collecting vintage British folk tunes from the English Folk Dance and Song Society, but you wouldn't guess it from their post-punk-leaning, Pulp-influenced indie rock. On their second record Nightingale, however, these folk roots surface in surprising ways, bubbling like old, atavistic spirits beneath the music.
"Dream Of The Rood," for instance, a soporific, supernatural vision sung over seasick guitar, is based on one of the oldest poems that exists in English. "Nightingale" is a song of desperate loss set to a Gothic tempest of billowing noise from guitarist Simon Tong. Cooper, whose voice loosely recalls Ray Davies, coaxes a superb array of goopy, clotted analogue sounds from his keyboard array. The finale, "The Trees They Grow So High", points out new directions for this group, beginning with a synthesized burst of Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia, and sprouting into a techno-fantasy of hammering, woodpeckery drums and dirty synth-squelches. The ghosts of ancient Britain are on the march, clad in digital armor.