"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"
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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Nature Boy

























Beguiling Being in Nature via “Farewell, Brother” from latest Rural Colours release, Afar, Farewell. Who’s doing all this Germanic-sounding Being-in-Nature? It’s offthesky finding fellow-feeling with Man Watching The Stars, known to his Mum as Brendan Paxton. Bristle-based bros Fluid Radio enthuse ‘…these five tracks quiver with a tension that evokes the twilight moment between daylight and darkness, and thrum with a grandeur borrowed from mountains and canyons,’ clinching the deal with ‘…what is most special about “Afar, Farewell” is its ability to enact this kind of ‘being-there’, of being in Nature, even if this turns out to be a kind of mythologised and yearned-for Nature rather than anything concrete.’ 

"Farewell, Brother" by offthesky & Man Watching the Stars by Man Watching the Stars

Hibernate supremo, Jonathan Lees, up yon in Yorkshire, pronounces it ‘one of the most breathtakingly moving albums ever released’ on his junior label, Rural Colours. Hyperbole aside, Afar, Farewell’s five helpings of sustaining guitar string-melt with nice fuzz around the edges go down very nicely, notably failing LMYE’s Enovian ignorability test, resolutely refusing to fade into the background, various textures and timbres – chief among which MWtS’s ‘experimental violin’ - colluding with Jason Corder’s chords to keep ears not only well-lent, but royally tweaked and twirled. Get it here or there.

Offthesky & Man Watching The Stars: Rime Of The Bloodsands Pyre by Rural Colours



While we’re at it, consider that this is just the latest in a stream of offthesky - 20+ emissions over the last decade, incl. collabs with blokes like Radere, Darren McClure, and Billy Gomberg, to name but three. Recently there was Offthesky Vs Kinder Scout’s The Curio Collection on Home Normal with ‘Dusty neo-classical/ambient exhalations from Jason Corder (Offthesky) in trio with cellist Danny Norbury and Home Normal's intercontinental CEO, Ian Hawgood (Kinder Scout). … Across six tracks they paint a slow moving and faded soundscape glowing with the soft peal of bells, creaking strings and crackling location recordings which mingle and diffuse with tender subtlety, the focus given to a blurry mid-ground while a shifting patina of vocal glossolalia and drones lend a dreamy momentum to the whole thing. Out of stock, but still downloadable and cloud-streamable:

homen034 offthesky vs Kinder Scout 'The Curio Collection' (album preview) by Home Normal



Around a year ago we had T’Beautiful Nowhere (Northern version ;-)) on Hibernate, apparently inspired by the Appalachians (Wot? not the Pennines?), deemed by some scribe at foxydigitalis to ‘…carry a sense of place that is reminiscent of the work of Richard Skelton (but with only occasional strings). Seemingly the typically geetar-totin’ Mr Corder had ‘initially set himself a loose rule to use as many acoustic instruments as possible, whilst limiting the use of heavy electronic processing techniques. Instruments including guitar, harmonium, cello, toy piano, violin, kalimba, vibraphone and voice were recorded in a cabin near Carter Lake, Colorado in the peace of a beautiful, yet remote space. It was this secluded environment that encouraged and an existential state of mind and the resulting material gleaned of ideas relating to isolation and the surrounding rural landscape. Everyone knows this is nowhere…

offthesky - the beautiful nowhere (album preview) by experimedia

Cutely appraised, incidentally, by the nicely downhome wasistdas up in Hebden Bridge (home of Hibernate – serendipity or some relation?), whose previously handwritten reviews are now video-mediated here.



























And more recently dropping from offthesky came The Lowern Decay on Wist Rec, or digital, again featuring the delicate fizz and scrim of processing with more nature-loving guitar tones peeking through. Ooh.

offthesky - Lowern decay (fragment) by Wist Rec

























Not to neglect the other half, MWtS has previous: Elements 1, a compilation from Mumbai-based collective, The Future Elements, and Qoheleth, a collection of live improvisation performed and recorded in September 2012 ‘meant to capture bare expression, live composition, and spiritual reflection through sound,’ available for free download.

The Fires of Spring Incarnadine by Man Watching the Stars

Qoheleth (Album Preview) by Man Watching the Stars

























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