Warren Ellis (the comic book writer, not the musician. Everyone gets those two mixed up) called Angelystor by Phil Legard ‘one of the most beautiful pieces of music’ he owns. An exploration of St. Digain’s churchyard which contains possibly the oldest living thing in the British Isles, which surprisingly isn’t the Queen. CD and beautiful pamphlet on Wounded Wolf Press.
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‘Angelystor’ is a finely detailed case study on the tree that resides by St. Digain, a church in Llangernyw reported to be “haunted by an angel of death”. As if your life wasn’t terrifying enough already, Paul Legard has made a forty-minute ode to Britain’s oldest tree and its place next to a haunted chapel. As far as musical works go, this is the most dense: Legard has provided a forty-page hardback memoir about his immersion in the world of trees, discussing how his interest in composition began to intersect with the strange, surreal elements of the natural world he was unfolding.
Comics artist Warren Ellis has described this work as the most beautiful thing he’s heard, but ‘Angelystor’ is not a pretty record. It’s first ten minutes are sinewy and anguishing, combining sustained organ notes and whirring electronics for a sound that is unconscious, as if it were merely the sound the church and its tree make -- it is their overture, if you like. The piece as a whole doesn’t deviate much from this fly-on-the-wall stylisation: the drone rolls on undisturbed, offering no sign of human life and occasionally descending into a slumbering near-silence. Around twenty minutes in Legard utilises distant piano chords and a foggy ambient soundscape to breathe life and texture into his raw, landscaped sounds. It’s an interesting piece, in that it feels like it contributes to the folklore it’s depicting: I would go to Llangernyw expecting to hear these noises.
Beyond that, there’s a collection of shorter compositions Legard has contributed to ‘Yew Invocations’, an ongoing musical project dedicated to transposing “spoken text” into drone, as inspired by David Dunn. These pieces are more chillingly vocal, with groaned chants brushing against washed out ambience. It’s even more terrifying than ‘Angelystor’, frankly: it’s the sound of faceless people stealing souls.
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