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Improv Lutist and outer-fringes collaborator extraordinaire Wissem here joins hands with cult Irish types United Bible Studies. From the off this is a lush sounding record, title track 'Downland' sounding a little like James Blackshaw gone all cosmic and that with whooshing astral noises & an ominous drone being the undercurrent beneath some sweet thoughtful guitar. UBS vocalist Alison O' ...

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  • Downland by Jozef van Wissem & United Bible Studies

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Downland by Jozef van Wissem & United Bible Studies
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8/10 Brian Staff review, 14 July 2011

Improv Lutist and outer-fringes collaborator extraordinaire Wissem here joins hands with cult Irish types United Bible Studies. From the off this is a lush sounding record, title track 'Downland' sounding a little like James Blackshaw gone all cosmic and that with whooshing astral noises & an ominous drone being the undercurrent beneath some sweet thoughtful guitar. UBS vocalist Alison O' Donell pops up with her wide-eyed theatrical tones on the second track 'Seven Tears', a song imbued with meandering psych-rock elements under the jaunty acoustic guitar. Side one ends with a piece of stuttering, stumbling de-tuned experimentation that remains largely listenable due to its use of field recordings, intimate acoustics & blatant drunken charm. The opening track of side two sounds quite demented in a barking acid folk pixie way. Has me thinking of Comus or Gong in spirit. It's certainly a wide-eyed cyclic, gibbering sprite of a tune. Like the space invader noise throughout. You can never have too many space invader noises on a record. On the subsequent tune Wissem's feminine vocals are found fleshing-out an impassioned piece of haughty folk minimalism. The penultimate track is a more challenging, difficult beast that folds both ethereal, medieval & discordant rock elements. One for fans of Trembling Bells & the more esoteric end of Appendix Out, the closer is a magical dream-like folk-rock piece with choral vocals, chiming acoustic interplay and there's even what sounds like a hurdy gurdy in there. A cracking conclusion to a most interesting and diverse collection.


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