No Earthly Man

Roberts’ decision to abandon the indie rockers Appendix Out and devote himself to traditional music has resulted in three fine solo albums, of which this is the crowning achievement. Will Oldham oversaw the sessions, recorded in a converted Aberdeenshire barn, and Roberts effortlessly makes explicit the shared vocabulary of folk’s natural weirdness and experimental music’s studied strangeness. With skeletal singing, scraping fiddles, sinister drones and unwavering, death-like tempos, he discovers the inner mystery of traditional music and shows that if this infinitely expressive material is respected, it may yet reward us with results that sound utterly unprecedented. Five stars.