I wouldn’t normally create a blog entry for a review, but I’m going to make an exception here, as I think this is the best one I’ve ever got! Massive thanks to Mark Barton of God Is In The TV and The Sunday Experience for saying these things. It’s really made my day / week / month / year / life.
Exquisitely packaged arriving housed in a carded box inside of which jumped out inserts aplenty to include badges, a pressed flower, hand numbered authentication slips – ours if you are taking notes is #212 / 300, track list notes with new artwork to boot and a CD entitled ‘nature recordings’. really is eye catching and is billed as the first in the north western series put out by the folk police imprint – the second in case you’re still keeping copious notes is by Ewan D Rogers while the imminent third is due shortly from wyrdstone (cryptic clues coming courtesy of a sticker to the rear of the envelope to which this little treasure transported its way in). ’nature recordings’ is the work of one Adam Leonard whose been cutting his teeth and turning in finitely crafted psyche folk nuggets for the last ten years, ’nature recordings’ his third full length initially appeared in limited wax forms via the esteemed great pop supplement in an edition of just 150 hand numbered cuties. Part of the extended Owl Service family whose absence from our hi-fi’s in recent years has been duly noted he appeared on their ’a view from a hill’ full length the favour being returned by Steven Collins’ guest appearance here along with Pat Gubler of PG Six fame (and just so they don‘t feel left out Jana Landolt on drums and Gareth Davies on ashtray and raised eyebrows – do we detect a spot of Bez-ness). Carved, fired, smoked , distilled and then left to cure and mature in the finest traditions of English psych folk there’s a deeply resonating classicism oozing from the grooves of Adam Leonard’s quite exceptional ‘nature recordings’ full length which those of you attuned to platters emerging through the misty haze out of such acclaimed sound houses as reverb worship, cold spring and blackest rainbow to name but three will be familiarly versed in. in short pure terrascopia, there’s no doubting the spectral influence of Syd Barrett guiding Mr Leonard’s craft, undeniably carved in that rarest of English eccentricity, he shares the same mercurial mindset as that of both Paul Roland and chief practitioner in the art of peculiar psychedelia Robyn Hitchcock the latter of whose ‘the man who invented himself’ is summarily – er – reinvented here in a superbly mind fragmenting and disquietingly crooked sepia kissed kaleidoscopia haze with the result that he achieves that most rare of accolades turning and taking the song as his own. Peppered and seasoned in the winter long tug of fading paisley pop sighs and blessed with the most audacious bitter sweet hook this side of a Kevin Tihista gem ’Lillian, I love you’ traces its lineage back to a youthful Bevis Frond albeit spiked and primed to a ‘gigglegoo’ era Freed Unit curdling while ’dawn rain / grissom aloft’ is flavoured in an archaic tongue plucked straight from the mountain side back yard of John Fahey by way of its rustic flurries before seeing fit to shed its skin and re-emerge swooned and lolloping in the sleepy headed afterglow of an afternoon blissing out on moonshine. A harmonium – every record should feature one, along of course with the obligatory nose flutes, pan pipes, penny whistles, harmonicas and barks – but seriously harmoniums just do it for us, where people hear bleak and dowdy we translate as something pre-natural, hazy and decidedly sitting right up next to you intimate – see Nico, Ivor Cutler for starting illustrations. And so to ’the archaeologist’ which features a harmonium (just as well as it’d been pointless doing the intro) attaches with the frail shadow tracing of a ghostly hymnal glow as done as were by a slightly maudlin half man half biscuit as its protagonist starkly stirs inwardly and questions his very being. All said centrepiece of the album is reserved for the side long four song cycle ’the eighth tower’ – at equal parts haunting, magnetic and magical which once through the daunting entrance point of ’part i’ soon immerses you in a dreamy timeless tapestry by way of ‘part ii’ that guides you ever deeper into some enchanted netherworld where one minute the motifs are engraved by the lush spring hued shade of summerisle only to morph and fracture into the psychotropic realm of working for a nuclear free city, somewhere else ’part iii’ is spell crafted with a mystical aura that stretches far back into traditional English folklore while the delightfully airy mayday rustics of the murmured mantra on ‘part iv’ will seduce in the first instance admirers of the aforementioned Owl Service. Essential.