Captain Yonder: Good-Bye, Woland!

Captain Yonder
Good-Bye, Woland!
Strange Midge
2007-05-01

Led by the spectral hand of multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and former trucker Ryan Pfeiffer, Captain Yonder bravely ventures into a musical realm very few groups (the Handsome Family and Willard Grant Conspiracy come to mind) would even contemplate visiting, let alone choose to set up shop in, namely, the shadowy netherworld of gothic-Americana. With four years in residence and four albums released, these courageous souls deliver spooky folk tales of ethereal, sepia-tinged beauty that are kept afloat, here, by an eclectic array of instruments, including cello, music boxes, and a creepy musical saw played by Adam Wirtzfeld that’s put to great effect throughout. The traditional murder ballad “Banks of the Ohio” is freely adapted lyrically, while on the deathly duet “The Black Dress” the seductive whisper of Esmé Schwall takes the lead from Pfeiffer’s country-drawl. Elsewhere, Schwall’s cello and backing vocals perfectly compliment Pfeiffer as he introduces us to a phantom Ice Queen (“Ode to a Trucker #9”) and an odd bunch of characters who are anything but what they appear to be on the music-hall shindig “When a Cat’s a Dog”, respectively. Weirdly wonderful — or to put it another way, wonderfully weird.

RATING 8 / 10
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