Flake Brown
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Flake Brown

Band Folk Soul


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"Deskant Review"

The fledgling Scottish label Autumn Ferment have done it again in sharing with the world another fantastically original folk artist. When not singing, Flake Brown is a father named Tony Ramsay, a folk-guitar fiddler fiddling his way around whirs of plucked strings and tastily surreal lyrics. Admittedly the combination of folk + odd voice + humour (albeit a slight, tasteful wit) does not immediately smack you of making an enjoyable listen. But his debut album 'Help the Overdog' is a real grower; his distinctive voice turns from strange to charming and you realise you're in the company of a jolly good album.

Flake has a friendly bass-baritone voice which he shows off with terrific low humming. He's the owner of what I would have assumed is a West Country croak, but Sussex is where he really hails so I'm a quite a few miles off at least.

There are some classic folk song-titles here: 'Pilgrim Song', 'The Weathercatcher' and 'Eddie the Puss', but nothing in the album suggests trite folk idioms. The latter song is wonderfully perplexing:

I am a mistress of fate,
I wait for you at the gate…
Staple my face to the hours…
Skate on the top of your breath,
Ride on the wings of desire,
Buy a house and then retire.
Be good to mum throughout life,
Go to the shops, buy a knife…

and includes some sinister chuckling and the two longest hums I've ever heard. 'The Angry Courtyard' hits you in the stomach with its sheer beauty, and is coupled with some spectacular lyrics: "Moon drips into the Angry Courtyard… I watch the life that dangled on your thigh".

Flake is funny but never facetious and has a witty idiosyncrasy that makes comparison very tricky. Sadly, and this is very sadly, Flake's guitar playing can be pretty scatty when trying to impress. Most of the album displays an original and reserved take on some very tricky folk fingerpicking, and this is when he performs best. His guitar playing is can be too ambitious towards the end of the album and songs are spoiled, but not ruined, by some pretty shoddy playing. He's no Django and does at times attempt playing which only a virtuoso could pick, slide, hammer and pull off. This is, however, the only criticism I can (very reluctantly) find in such a fine, fine, grand, wonderful, humorous, comforting album - an album helped me find peace in a rush-hour, oh-shit-I've-lost-my-keys London. A must for metropophobes!

- Deskant

"Psche van het volk"

I found a bit of resemblance with Ivor Cutler in Flake Brown's humoristic approach, although Flake Brown's visions are much more like surreal poetry, chasing ghosts and fearful visions with an overtop smile, just like in the early 60s they laughed away some fears with horror bop visions of aliens, Draculas and woolfemen.

"senorita, your lovely hair cicking in the moonlight, its dangerous curves gleam wretched fingers like a bat, love, and wrecked skulls gripe in liquid nothing… …Oh why did I have to reveal my neural bones to you on that night when the whole sky seemed to piss upon me?..." to give an idea… Such visions can become really poetic :"when February bones strip the autumn of its skin and spring spills its blood out of the shoreline… …and when autumn breezes blow back a spell upon your brow I long for the quiet of a sea babe" not always with a ready solution, and often remaining like in an Alice in Strangerland.

The guitar pieces are from funny to blood dripping serious, the melodies are something like that as well, but it's not always cabaret-folk (remember Bernd Witthüser's Songs from vampires, nuns and the dead, 1970), with a beautiful voice that can go bone deep with its baritone, and with incredible variety, both in technique (guitar), as well as in mood. Highly recommended !
- Gerald Van Psyche


Help The Overdog(Cd Album) Autumn Ferment Records
'Bucketful of fools' and 'The Round World' were played for two months on Dandelion Radio.



A Decade ago, Flake Brown (a.k.a Tony Ramsay) was ready to give up his guitar and everything he had, and float off into the uper ether with only a tin whistle for company. Fortunatly, a phone call from his one true love brought him back to earth, and since then he has continued to develop his prodigious guitar technique, as well as continuing to delve deep into the nether regions of his psyche for his surreal outbursts of song. He draws inspiration from a mind-boggingly wide range of music, from the country blues picking of Mississippi John Hurt, through Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, right through to schmaltzy '50s doo wop. He performs with the manic energy of a speeding octopus, and sings like a 700 year old troubadour!