"Away with the fairies."
That's an old Irish saying that I came across years ago, while I was dating a patient Irishman with a superhuman threshold for my often wandering mind. "You're away with the fairies again," he'd say with a grin, startling me out of whatever reverie had momentarily captured my imagination. I asked him what it meant the first time he said it, and he obligingly gave me a quick Celtic mythology lesson. That common phrase has its roots in the doings of the "little people," the parallel universes said to be contained within their innocuous-looking hill mounds, and various examples of the eldritch mischief that's allegedly plagued the long-suffering Irish people for centuries.
The Celtic folk tradition is far darker than a leprechaun-loving public would like to believe, and bleeds over into the rest of the British Isles, who host their own versions of that shadowy netherworld. This is the world that Dylan Carlson—renowned musician, recovered addict, and forever controversial ex-friend of a famous dead man—moves within. Best known as the riff-wielding cornerstone of Seattle drone gods Earth, Carlson is also an accomplished solo musician, having released a variety of albums and EPs under the moniker Drcarlsonalbion.
His solitary compositions speak the language of drone, but as we hear on his most recent work, Falling With a 1000 Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion, there's a certain gentleness at play, manifested in quiet, dusky, looping melodies. The album—which he funded via a successful (but stressful) Kickstarter campaign—is not altogether dissimilar from Earth's latter-day work (the wavering, pastoral sunshine of The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull leap to mind) . However, it is a wholly personal effort, and one that springs from an unexpected source—the faeries.
That's not the whole of it, of course, but I was surprised to find out just how large the little people loomed in Carlson's creative process. I sat down with him and his wife, London-based artist and dancer Holly Carlson, to get to the root of the album's otherworldly inspirations. In an aside, he mentioned the strange legacy of his friendship with Kurt Cobain (he told me that he still gets sent death threats to this day, especially when he announces a new tour) but that's not what we're focusing on in this piece.
Our focus here is less... terrestrial, shall we say. He brought up how his Scottish grandmother's stories got him interested in eldritch matters—and in the privacy of our dark nook, with voices low, we also ended up talking a lot about ghosts.