A Year In The Country: ‘The Quietened Mechanisms’

❉ A soaring soundbite of seismic and sensory sounds, this is one of the most arresting A Year In The Country releases yet – and one of the best!

“Layered in subtext, folkloric rhetoric and ironic resonance, the album is as much an invitation into the listener’s psyche as it is into the artist’s repartee. The album takes growth from the trees around Britain, as Embertides sing with Celtic ambience over a rise of showery synths.”

Blade Runner. That’s what I thought when I heard the first track. And as Blade Runner is, quite simply, something much more than a movie, it’s a daring feat to emulate. And it does so. Beautifully. Openers The Heartwood Institute:Birkby and Allbright Mine open on an industrious note, surveying the seas of deceit and distrust the rest of the album takes on. In a series that sits with a series of albums including The Quietened Village, The Quietened Bunker and The Quietened Cosmologists that have focused on abandoned villages, derelict Cold War infrastructure and the lost dreams of the space race, Mechanisms sits strongly, a soaring soundbite of seismic and sensory sounds.

It wanders amongst deserted factories” our friends at A Year In The Country tell We Are Cult: “Discarded machinery, closed mines, mills and kilns and their echoes and remains; taking a moment or two to reflect on these once busy, functioning centres of activity and the sometimes sheer scale or amount of effort and human endeavour that was required to create and operate such structures and machines, many of which are now just left to fade away”.

As with the albums of Eno and Vangelis, it is through the use of synths that listeners are brought back to the realm of nature. Quaker’s Stang play a keyboard of controlled challenge, Keith Seatman brings ambient aggression on a Rural Flight. This is one of the most arresting A Year In The Country releases yet. It’s definitely one of the best!

Through sounds of aural and dystopic unease, tape loops and keyboards introduce listeners to the buzzing and humming an industrial factory makes. Drum patterns pedal over growls and loops tick time through the waves of weary wordless wages. Text notes write about shut down factories and empty machinery in a piece more potent than prose. There’s an irony to this album that deliciously shows how technology and industry has alienated society as much as it has developed it. Such Floydian irony sits well with this reviewer, and with the absence of a new Roger Waters drama, this substitutes just fine.

The Quietened Mechanisms is wonderfully and weirdly avant-garde in presentation and representation. Layered in subtext, folkloric rhetoric and ironic resonance, the album is as much an invitation into the listener’s psyche as it is into the artist’s repartee. The album takes growth from the trees around Britain, as Embertides sing with Celtic ambience over a rise of showery synths. Depatterning echo through sounds hypnotic and hairy. A snore wakes up listeners for an introduction. One track boasts its recording as sound of two vintage Revox tape recorders passing a single tape loop backwards and forwards. A church bell tolls with the deafened defence Phil Spector used on Plastic Ono Band. Among all that, Rattler To The Tower sounds enjoyably commercial; were some lyrics added, it might make a radio hit!

Put in place as a newly, eerily insular look at the world around us, there is a sense that this is a work that is unwaveringly and unmannerly in description. A very strong album.


❉ ‘The Quietened Mechanisms’: Release date 2nd October 2018. Available in two CD editions: Dawn Light edition £11.95. Nightfall edition £21.95. Purchase via A Year In The Country’s Artifacts Shop and at Bandcamp. It will also be available as a download via Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes etc.

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