Northumberland based musician Graham Richardson (Last Days/St Kilda) crafts very still contemplative music. Emotionally raw and reflective pieces with acoustic, electronic and found sound elements. Returning to n5MD for his fifth full length Seafaring Richardson turns his focus to the sea and Ernest Shackleton. For fans of Helios, Loscil, The Album Leaf.
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Last Days’ Graham Richardson is still preoccupied by seas and oceans, and has been since 2006’s ‘Sea’; this time it’s Seafaring. Perhaps his obsession is not all that surprising when you consider his Northumberland roots and his home county’s rugged coastline, filled to the bow with sailing legends and tales of stricken vessels. The area is not short of its tragedies, of devastating effects to coastal communities and disjointing of families.
Perhaps the most surprising facet of this record is its sense of constantly shifting moods, tones and structures. Like an impressionist painting reflects light, the drift and flow of the record prompt the listener to reconsider their sense of perspective relevant to their surroundings, to their place in the soundscape. It’s not difficult to imagine yourself far out at sea, or standing on a headland with eyes keenly scanning the horizon for signs of returning ships, perhaps carrying family and loved ones.
Found sounds help the imagination, as on ‘Strait of Dover’ with its garbled but decipherable radio transmissions. On ‘Tiny Flares’ the violins fade to sounds of popping, like distant fireworks -- or, here, signals of distress from ship to shore. Elsewhere, woozy guitar figures rub shoulders with plaintive strings and melancholy piano. It’s a constantly moving record with emotive post-rock instrumentals helping to push along classical strings and synths sometimes barely rising above glacial pace. It’s a record that begs for your complete attention, and if you do you will reap the immersive benefits.
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