EP REVIEW: Dwen – ‘Leoht Farn’

Artwork for Dwen’s ‘Leoht Farn’ - the band and EP names printed over an image of a sword under a box

With little information surrounding Dwen’s origins, it’s fine to let the music shine straight through. What we do know is that East London-based trio Dwen take Midsommer-style folk and spiritual practice as aspects of their forward-thinking R&B. As acclaimed single Tr Pn N had it, putting sprinkles of synths and snappy hi-hats over reverby vocal lines takes you into a dancier form of snooze state—a sense that comes through even more calmly on the group’s new EP Leoht Farn.

Starter for ten: A Ghost In The Weed Garden, no doubt influenced by their English countryside writing retreat, embezzled with pagan ritual dress and weed smoke. A looping guitar riff continually plucks through a haze. Like if dream-pop’s atmospheres took a frolic through the daisy field with plug-and-play lofi aesthetic.

It’s a sound that continues throughout. Acoustic guitars lull you into the titular comfort of Memory Foam, while an underpinning drum beat plods along to foil the (fretless!) slap-bass that pops and slides along with the trio’s silky voices. Single Purple is another mid tempo soulful romp that addresses heady psychedelia through effects and lyrical content, all colours and whirlpools.

The guitar and bass interplay across the EP is quaint, playful, and soothing. Albeit there’s not much further shift from Dwen’s unique brand of twangy R&B in its first half, those elements fizzle best alongside the electronic drum kits’ stutter and bash. This, experienced on All Devouring Dawn, churns while subtle manipulations mark a cheeky quality to separate the overlapping sung passages.

Each song is a smart and beautiful vignette, made even more beautiful from a quick Google into Old English: Leoht, meaning bright or radiant, and farn, meaning feather or leaf or fern? You learn something new everyday, huh. For sure, even if paganism or the powers of the occult hold a darker undercurrent behind Dwen’s meditative ritual image, there is a loveliness to the floating songs and their wholesome titles. The Book Of Uncut Pages ends the play as a sun-through-cloud breaker, featuring a slow opening spoken word passage delving slowly, and further, into synthy syrup.

When Dwen mark their own R&B brand with those back to basic software drum kits, it takes their clear band-first mentality to another level of creativity, while their anonymity and reclaiming of old traditions adds a beguiling mystery that suits the luscious mood. It’s wonderful to be transported to a new age version of old England, if only for 15 minutes. ‘Til next release.

For fans of: Blood Orange, Little Dragon, Steve Lacy

‘Leoht Farn’ by Dwen is released on 10th February.

Words by Elliot Burr

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