Spires That in the Sunset Rise fancifully reverse-engineer folk music to a surreal prehistory. The result is a murky Pangaea where elements of choral melody meet with harmonium, bowed banjos, even Asian and African instruments.
Members Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson haven't played many Madison shows since moving here from Illinois and turning the group into a duo, but Ancient Patience Wills It Again shows why the nearly decade-old group is an exemplar of local avant-garde music. "Veiled Undertow" begins the album with an emphasis on vocal melodies, but also stretches across eight minutes of subtly dissonant harmonium, strings and guitar.
Though they don't use standard drums or percussion, the duo have strong ideas about rhythm, employing a Turkish spike fiddle to give "Child of the Snow" a tipsy whirl and arranging their instruments into a shuddering pulse on "Well Tempered." Baird and Peterson create an unforgivingly alien world, but govern it with deft and compassionate hands.