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- Bucolica by The House in the Woods
9/10 Ant Staff review, 24 October 2013
‘Bucolica’ sounds like some brand of infant cough medicine but is infact the superb debut release from The House In The Woods better known to his kin-folk as Martin Jenkins or Pye Corner Audio to you and I.
It’s clear from the offset that this is an entirely different project to The Head Technician’s other work. Although obviously we’re still in the realms of the darker strains of electronic music and this is quite possibly his darkest offering to date.
I think I must have listened to ‘Bucolica’ about five times at this point and each time it reveals something new to me. On the surface the album seems fairly simple but there’s an incredible amount of detail beneath. The music is extremely mysterious - Just where are these woods and what goes on there is unclear but the woodland theme and indeed the sonics echo Wolfgang Voigt’s gaseous electronic textures as Gas. Voigt’s work was based around The Black Forest so maybe the pair should get together and make a Black Forest Pye. I’d buy that for a dollar! Whether Voigt’s work has been an influence here I have no idea but the deep, rich almost tangible, fuzzy, warm crackly clouds of sound and occasional muffled techno beats are very reminiscent. The Gas stuff is ace so that’s no bad thing but Mister Jenkins has created more than a mere carbon copy. Spooked melodies emerge and retreat, the sounds of distant ghostly voices creep in here and there buried beneath the lovely drones, and there’s a hefty dollop of lush haunting synth action such as the gorgeous ‘Sunlit On Rusting Hulk’.
Having said that, to focus on individual tracks is foolish as this is really one of those albums you need to spend time with and digest as a whole. It’s really great to hear this side of the artist as this album is top notch, so much so that I imagine folks will be outraged at it only being available on the CD format and demanding a vinyl issue. But really who can be arsed getting up and flipping records over with such immersive deep listening? Not I, for it wrecks the journey, man. Most definitly a keeper.
8/10 Ian Customer review, 10th December 2013
My better half tells me that I listen to far too much of this kind of thing, and that it contributes greatly to my depressed outlook and lugubrious worldview. I usually counter that by pointing out that you can’t listen to Studio One Ironsides or Laura Cantrell every morning while having your breakfast; in fact, you could say, there’s nothing like a bit of gloomy static, near fridge noise or prolonged drone for the grey skies of November and December – an appropriate soundtrack for the sadness of times built on avarice, deception and exploited people’s cheap dreams. And that’s all before I’ve fetched the milk in.
In fact, after a just a few listens of the new House in the Woods (aka Pye Corner Audio) album Bucolia there’s an immediately identifiable upful feel to both the title track and ‘Sunlight on Rusting Hulk’ that has shades of the woozy melancholia and muffled yearn of Boards of Canada and Burial respectively (to employ two overused touchstones). It’s an album where you need to stick your head closer to the speaker though – it’s not a cd that works particularly well on the motorway in an old Ford Fiesta – to truly discover the submerged treasure glinting in the murk. Beneath the fuzz there’s a lovely muted jangle, almost wind chime, on the opening ‘Severton Pathway’; ‘Dark Lanterns’ spins away mournfully for seven minutes; a funky echo that sounds like it was lifted from New York circa 1982 builds out of the fog of ‘Favershall’ and then recedes, to be replaced by a muted siren-call, itself washed away with a restorative ambient balm. ‘Mountains of the Sea’ tends towards the generator noise that doesn’t go down so well with the rest of the family – for some reason (probably the title) it brings to mind a distorted, chopped-up snippet of the Boxhead Ensemble’s Dutch Harbour soundtrack from fifteen years or so ago (all mountainous seas, codfish and Alaskan ennui), but, again, the clouds part and the sun breaks through at the end. There’s a lovely hovering synth line buried deep in ‘Half Glimpsed’ that suddenly drops away to reveal what I imagine George Clooney ultimately heard in his headset in the film Gravity – depthless eternity – before blaring back into the foreground. And with its slightly more insistent buzz and grind, the closing ‘The Rain Washed Away’ is probably the only real room-clearer here.
On the spectrum it’s probably somewhere between Music has the Right to Children, Loscil’s Container Ships and the darker side of The Stranger’s Watching Empires Decay. It’s in keeping with the fine line of Pye Corner Audio records – the Black Mill Tapes and Sleep Games; the Boomkat 12” and Ghost Box 7s – and it’s the perfect antidote for anyone who finds much of the wider Ghost Box output a little too knowing and arch . . .
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