The Memory Band are indeed a band of memory, making it their business to dig out artefacts from a Britain of times gone by and refashioning them into new-old music. Landscape Music Volume Five (A Fair Field Full Of Folk) is a strong set of semi-folk, acoustic musicians and traditional-style songcraft balanced out with modern lessons and equipment. On Static Caravan.
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Almost impossible to review a record as delicate as this with a bloody Sleater Kinney live album blasting in the background...but I can but try. Pump up the headphones and pretend I'm harvesting a field and we'll all be ok.
The Memory Band's Stephen Cracknell has been ploughing a much more experimental furrow of late and his latest missive as the Memory Band begins with a lovely piano piece that could well be the soundtrack to relaxing after operating a threshing machine for the best part of the day. A more familiar sounding Memory Band appears on 'Children of the Stones' which is a repetitive folk piece that uses a repeating if enjoyable phrase played out on stabbed piano and luscious rhodes piano. It's possibly the moment where 'Astral Weeks' met 'Future Days'.
Cracknell's daring attitude to recording folk music resurfaces at various point over the course of the LP and it's a varied work that incorporates the traditional and the modern in equal measure. I'm particularly struck by 'Against Our Laws Contrary' a gorgeous instrumental piece where piano and picked acoustic guitar are joined by exquisite strings. Many tracks are kind of like a combination between the more interesting end of folk composition such as Pentangle and the sort of melodic rotating instrumentals produced by artists like Maston. This results in a fresh and innovative take on folk that will appeal to fans of Ryley Walker's 'Primrose Green' and the gorgeous post post rock compositions of Phelan Shephard and Littlebow.
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- A Fair Field by The Memory Band
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