❉ Distant echoes of lost transmissions, wreathed in the music of the spheres.
We Are Cult readers may recall how much we enjoyed the first of this year’s themed releases from the A Year In The Country project, a beguiling and thought-provoking collaboration from various artists taking in folk, ambient, found sounds, and electronica. The latest collection, From The Furthest Signals doesn’t have quite as strong a hook as the ‘Grass Tape’ concept of spring’s excellent The Restless Field, but it’s just as interesting.
It’s a tribute to lost and half-remembered things, inspired by the thought that lost films, television shows, and radio programmes could still be out there in the ether somewhere, transmissions travelling out into the stars, as distant echoes, wreathed in the music of the spheres. From The Furthest Signals runs with this idea. There’s a lot in common with the previous release, but it’s a different beast, a kind of sci-fi version of acid-folk that owes as much to Delia Derbyshire’s Blue Veils and Golden Sands as it does to the drones and reels of Wyrd Folk.
Much of From The Furthest Signals sounds like a nod to Delia’s famous atmospheres, intentional or not, particularly Depatterning’s mesmeric, ambient Aurora In Andromeda. Other tracks like Time Attendant’s The Dreaming Green revolve around fragmentary electronica a la Boards Of Canada, with what sounds like the narration of an ancient schools programme on how to paint peeping through. Keith Seatman’s Curious Noises and Distant Voices is like eavesdropping on a Mars Rover scanning the airwaves, with shards of space noise slowly infiltrated by doomy square waves.
The signals veer a little closer to land elsewhere, like Polypores’ Signals Caught From The Coast, a fragmented electronic sea shanty. Well it might be. It sounds like one, anyway. Meanwhile, Pulselovers‘ Endless Repeats/Eternal Return comes across like the melodic synth work of Radiophonic Workshop men Peter Howell and Paddy Kingsland refracted through a black hole. Indeed, David Colohan’s Brass Rubbings Club comes over like a homage to Kingsland’s mellow pastoral theme tunes, sounding exactly like the groovy but oddly haunting theme to something from the Open University.
There’s also several vocal tracks here, all of them lovely, and just a bit spooky. The desolate chorale of Sharron Kraus’s Asterope sounds like the theme from Children Of The Stones has relocated to a far-flung, empty asteroid. The sublimely eerie The Thistle Doll from Sproatly Smith is probably the best track, sounding like it’s been partly taped-over with something you can’t quite make out, while the cosmic reel of The Hare And The Moon’s gorgeous Man Of Double Deed manages to be both crisply nearby and airily distant sounding.
Listening Center’s pretty, Jarre-esque Only The Credits Remain concludes another great album, beautifully and uniquely packaged, as usual. On reflection, We Are Cult believe it’s probably best consumed on a clear, late night with a telescope and a bottle of wine. This is music for stargazing. Chin chin.
❉ Listen to clips from the album at A Year In The Country’s Soundcloud: Mark II Ether Victrola