Well hopefully by now you've picked up the stunning trilogy of EPs Netherfield Works, Springhead Works and Nunroyd Works by Craven Faults so you should be impressed enough to get this, the first full length missive from the reclusive producer. The vibe with all these releases seems to be West Yorkshire kosmische - a kind of rugged, rural take on the synth explorations that emerged out of 1970s Germany.
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Beginning a debut LP with a 17 minute synth arpeggio jam is not normal. However, beginning a debut LP with a 17 minute synth arpeggio jam is what Craven Faults has done. 'Erratics and Unconformities' is the first long-player from the West Yorkshire producer, who occupies that sweet spot between sombre German kosmische musik, sooty Yorkshire electronica, and hauntological synthesizer workouts. 2018 and 2019 have been bumper years this kind of sparse, dusty electronica made in the North, of which Craven Faults remains always at the very epicentre.
'Cupola Smelt Mill' is my favourite track on the record. It feels like a rough sketch of 'Autobahn', full of drones and stately percussion motifs all held together by the clunk of an off-centre bass rhythm. The Cupola Smelt Mill itself contained reverbatory furnaces and a slag hearth, and the song sounds like distant feedback from the industrial cacophany sounding throughout the 1800s.
I also love 'Slack Sley and Temple' which feels like the record's most organic song. There are visceral, industrial-sounding clangs and a murky, sparse, cavernous dub feel to the way the track moves and sways. Superb.
I'd recommend googling the names of the songs on 'Erratics & Unconformities' because you can gauge some of the album's lodestars: Yorkshire towns, industrial decay, ancient art, and textiles. 'Erratics & Unconformities' is an album that seems to react to place and setting. It's bookended by two pieces: 'Vacca Wall' (meaning a wall designed to contain cows) and 'Signal Post' (perhaps a reference to devices that instruct trains to stop or move). These suggest that place and setting affect the form of the music itself. Both songs feel like boundaries. 'Vacca Wall' is an enjoyably imperious 17 minute synth arpeggio jam that builds to a squalling crescendo, comprising little more than a few glittering keyboard lines and the faint pulse of a kick drum. The pulsing clicks that stretch throughout the piece are reminiscent of looking at individual bricks streching on and on. Similarly, the majestic, grand chord sequences in 'Signal Post' have a funereal finality that feel like resolution. 'Erratics & Unconformities', then, is an album that becomes part of its environment.
9/10 Luke Harris 15th January 2020
First time I’ve been compelled to pen a review in a while but this album is so insistently good I felt I had to.
If Klaus Schulze, Popul Vuh, John Carpenter and that bloke from Pye Corner Audio were forced (say at gun point because visually that would be quite funny) into Seth Brundle’s teleportation pods - the emergent conjoined musician would be Craven Faults. I imagine myself as a 25 year old super-spy driving across the Yorkshire Moors in a yellow triumph stag to this music. It’s foggy, a bit drizzly and mystery awaits me. This is a great record.
9/10 Ross Holloway 10th January 2020
I've enjoyed Craven Faults since their first EP - though they are rather LP length EPs it has to be said. Well once again Craven Faults deliver on lack of brevity. There is, shall we say, no rush, no push, to anything these people do - we are in the realms of the endless and the eternal.
4 sides and 6 tracks in which the rural and industrial landscapes of Yorkshire are evoked through the medium of cosmic synthesiser music.
In the past decade synthesiser music has perhaps had a bigger turn that at any time since the 1970s. As a synthesiser music fan, it really is fantastic, but if I have a general criticism of the many examples I've purchased from Norman Records it is that too often synths are used to sound 'doomy/scary' or the opposite 'bright/plastic', because it's dead easy to do either with a synth. Synth music might be the only music that's actually easier to do than three chord garage punk rock, which like the garage punk rock, makes it counterintuitvely very difficult to do well.
Craven Faults sounds neither doomy or annoyingly bright. Much is surprisingly very natural sounding, like something pure in mother nature not sullied by human interference. Rarely has synth music sounded this mystical, since Popol Vuh most likely. For me synth music can summon up the cosmic, the infinite, and a sense of wonder like no other genre, and Craven Faults deliver wonder and lovely wonderfulness in spades.
I imagine sitting on a glacier in Iceland watching the Northern Lights would be a good place to listen to this. It's that kind of record.
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