Take a rich compost of everything from Brit-folk reissues to free-jazz improv to outsider heroes like Harry Smith, John Fahey, and Henry Darger to psychedelic freakers like Acid Mothers Temple. Sprinkle with wartime fantasy escapism—hello, LOTR!—then wait a few years. Watch jaded indie rockers and neo-hippies quiver in ecstasy. Like mushrooms in the dark . . . hark, they sporeth: There’s clearly a fertile and diverse folk music revival afoot. “New Weird America,” some have been calling it.
One band scraping resin from both the medieval pipe and trance bong is Philly’s majestic Espers. The mind-meld of acid-lullaby enchanter Greg Weeks and his maenads of baroquean beauty Meg Baird and Brooke Sietinsons, Espers at their core are a trio—acoustic and electric guitar, dulcimer, recorder, autoharp, vintage keyboards. Friends add violin, cello, and various percussion. With beautiful finger-style sonnets recalling Bert Janch and female (sometimes male) vocals haunting the same moonlight as Vashti Bunyan, Espers perfectly balances minimal composition with loose Amon Düül-like jams, seductively strangling Renaissance dirges and laments (think Pentangle/Incredible String Band) with droned “acid leads” that leave you wandering in unknown ancient/future landscapes you knew as a child but now are too frightened to return to.
Espers play Sin-é March 28, following an afternoon in-store at Mondo Kim’s on St. Marks Place.