We try to take a family vacation once a year, and quite a few of those vacations over the last ten years have been spent in the deep, sublime woods of Brown County located in southern Indiana. We just returned from that yearly jaunt, this year taking reprieve from the horrors of 2020 in the changing leaves of Nashville, Indiana in the Midwestern fall.
On this particular stay in a cabin in the woods I found myself immersed in Andy Fosberry’s newest opus, Blair, Maryland. It’s an album that pulls inspiration from the original The Blair Witch Project from 1999, a film that re-imagined what a horror film could be if left up to our imagination. It also opened the portal to countless found-footage films that varied from inspired(Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity) to straight-to-video cast-offs(The Gallows, Unfriended).
What Andy Fosberry has done is build a melancholy mood with piano, strings, bass-y synth, and tribal percussion that connects to the doomed fate of our three young victims, as well as the myth and macabre legend of the Blair Witch. It’s a stunningly gorgeous and at times dread-inducing journey.
This is what Andy Fosberry said about this album, “Musically, I wanted it to feel like it exists between worlds and isn’t sonically one thing. So I used piano and scratchy strings from my favourite haunted orchestra on top of various dark, deep synths and bound these together with organic hand percussion. These drums and shakers felt like a throwback to the origins of the myth, which has its roots in the late 18th Century.”
Opener “Blair, Maryland” has the feel of a mournful piano piece. Melancholy notes glide with strings and gentle percussion to give the feel of falling leaves and a sinking sun, leading us into those dark and dangerous Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland. “Hand Me Down Stories” amps up the dread, with tribal percussion accentuating the Blair Witch legend and ghostly sonic vibes throughout.
Tracks like “Figures In The Woods”, “Three Piles Of Rocks”, and haunted “Blood Bundle” connect right to the film, as the titles relate directly to scenes still very much embedded in our psyche over 20 years later. Fosberry captures the vibe and feel of The Blair Witch Project perfectly, while still giving us something wholly original and new to sink our teeth into.
Besides this original musical reinterpretation, there is six extra tracks included on this album. I will let Andy Fosberry explain: “After completing work on the ‘Blair, Maryland’ album and compiling it together, I had the idea of reimagining some of the tracks as late 70’s/early 80’s synth horror scores. At the same time, I wanted to leave a little bit of the relentless darkness of the woods behind… and make the tracks a little more sci-fi.”
These “synth extensions” are music catnip for folks like me. They harken back to the days where someone like Walter Rizatti, John Harrison, or Charles Bernstein went into the studio with nothing but maybe an ARP, Juno, or a DX-7 and composed music that would haunt 70s and 80s kids for the rest of their lives. There’s also elements of Vangelis, Jean- Michel Carré , and early Oneohtrix Point Never in these beautiful synth works.
What Andy Fosberry has given us here is a cool and steely synth bath to bathe our brains in after the dark and ritualistic ride of those first nine tracks. Gorgeous swaths of synthetic tones to lose ourselves in when we find we’ve wandered off the path into a sea of fallen limbs and dead leaves.
Andy Fosberry has presented us with our Halloween soundtrack for this year and many years to come with Blair, Maryland. Put it in your ears just as the sun is setting, and see where your imagination takes you.
8.1 out of 10
Blair, Maryland will be released on 10/31/20. Preorder it here from Spun Out Of Control.