My Autumn Empire is a spin-off project from little-known but much-loved ambient electronic folk project epic45. Dreams of Death and Other Favourites will satisfy fans of that group, with a lo-fi approach to songwriting and an eerie approach to production. Released by Wayside & Woodland Recordings.
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- Dreams of Death and Other Favourites by My Autumn Empire
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 10 November 2015
Ben Holton has somehow managed to make our Ian’s favourite record. This is a world that combines folky dream-pop with (and especially on the first few tracks) the slow strums of early ’70’s Pink Floyd. Opener ’The Following’ has that hazy post Syd Barrett English whimsy combined with some rather 70’s synth sounds. I can literally see the little rainbow thing on 'Dark Side of the Moon’ as I listen.
Eerier still is ‘Death Song’ where some lovingly picked guitar is married with some severely dark synth work. The overall feel is somewhere between Gravenhurst, Bibio, Boards of Canada and (again) Pink Floyd. ‘Forcefield’ layers itself up Moondog -like with repeated vocal patterns circling around and the overall feeling that Tunng used to supply. Holton is a really accomplished guitarist and his finger picking is a constant delight throughout this record. Thing is the best bits are yet to come. ‘Black Shape’ sits betwixt Gravenhurst's eerie balladry and the waltzy dollop of Hood’s lo-fi 90’s singles…drums falling down the stairs etc.
The purely instrumental ‘Garden Echoes’ is by far the best thing here, I don’t want to do disservice to Holton’s voice to say that it’s better because it’s an instrumental but what it does do is create a less intense space for the melodies of the track to circle around. This will appeal to fans of Bibio’s last album ‘Silver Wilkinson‘. This freedom leads into the Michael Chapman -ish picks of ‘Murrain’ which ploughs a more fractured post-rock furrow and the closing, glistening intermeshed guitars and whispered vocals of ‘Willows in the Close’.
As always with Holton’s (and his parent band Epic45) stuff it’s superbly recorded and immediately brings to mind a misty day in an English village, a man tinkering around with chunky, woody acoustic guitars in his garden shed over a cup of tea. Don’t let this slip by.
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