(Rif Mountain Records)
The Rif Mountain collective was formed in 2009 as a small co-op label by Steven Collins of English folk-rockers the Owl Service, along with Dom Cooper, Jason Steel and Nancy Wallace, all of whom are Owl Service members with other projects of their own. This 19-track sampler (which includes several previously unreleased recordings) is a reminder of the quirky variety to be found around the edges of the so-called psych-folk scene. In correct collective spirit, the Owl Service are not allowed to dominate, but their four tracks include an impressive, gently edgy treatment of Lal Waterson's Fine Horseman, and the drifting, eastern-edged January Snows. Elsewhere, there's fine, no-nonsense singing from Wallace, who appears both by herself and accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Steel, who demonstrates his stomping banjo work, delicate ukulele playing and spirited ragtime guitar on his solo tracks. Then there's a haunting accordion-backed Iranian ballad from Welsh-born Roshi Nasehi, and upbeat "garage folk" from Cooper and the Straw Bear Band. I'm not wild about their cheerful treatment of the once-chilling Lyke-Wake Dirge, but their unexpected reworking of the old Creedence favourite Bad Moon Rising captures the spirit of this adventurous set.