If the godfather of ambient (Brian Eno), a ‘60s country-rock guitarist (Clarence White), and one of the most renowned composers of all time (Ennio Morricone) ever had the chance to make music together, they may end up sounding like the latest act to sign onto Sugar Hill Records.
Black Prairie, an experimental side project of a few members of The Decemberists, draws inspiration from all three. The group formed in early 2007, bringing Decemberists members Jenny Conlee (vocals, accordian), Nate Query (bass, cello) and Chris Funk (vocals, bazouki, dobro, weissenborn) together with fellow Portland musicians Annalisa Tornfelt and Jon Neufeld. “The first gatherings were a little daunting as we were all used to the traditional song form,” Funk said in a statement. “It’s been totally open-ended from day one, which is at times a little terrifying.”
Black Prairie’s musical exploration will soon culminate in the early 2010 release of their debut, Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, a 13-song collection largely featuring their own brand of bluegrass, plus two traditional tunes.