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Daniel Bennett and Stephen Cornford – Fellfield Draff

Hideous Replica

Daniel Bennett And Stephen Cornford - Fellfield DraffIt’s not clear how composed this is, but there’s bits that have the quality of being like someone’s writing harmonies (ahem) while under the influence of ketamine — it’s definitely happening, but at a pace just that smidge too slow to discern quite how it’s moving. Stephen Cornford I’m less familiar with but Daniel Bennett‘s; well, he’s always been a frighteningly meticulous musician and his attention to detail is astonishing. Here, it’s not clear whose voice is whose, so the entirely gorgeous squelch of early in “Field”, just nauseous enough to be disconcerting but never outstaying it’s welcome and is really quite lovely.

Detail is probably the thing that separates the “will this do?”‘ textural wheat from the noise chaff (NB — in that example wheat is the good thing, I have no idea whether wheat or chaff are desirable in topsy-turvy 2016), and this has just enough movement to seem like it narrativised but not so much as to seem skittish. I’m inclined to say it sounds improvised, but there’s a fair few stop-on-a-dime (sic) sudden dramatic turns that make me suspect there could be a degree of planning here. It might be that each piece has a limited amount of material — there’s a winnowing low bass motif in “Field” which pops up a handful of times, lending the impression of, if not composition, then impressionistic composition.

And on details… there doesn’t seem to be much which is left as a material in and of itself. The harmonic motifs of “Fell”, never quite coalescing into ostensible development but still moving, and the apparent sine waves of “Draff”, which never succeed in being static, give the idea that everything’s bending ever so slightly. Where seas are a bit more choppy, it’s never full-on harsh noise — even straight up static clicks, hisses and whirrs take on the quality of being laden with information rather than gestural effect.

I guess the complement to detail is consideration, and they’re on the money there as well — just over thirty minutes, a decorous amount without being snippish or indulgent. “Draff”, the longest track, does a great job of restrainedly snaking somewhere over sixteen minutes, slipping into ambience just long enough to jolt you out when it returns to the noisier bits.  It was about twenty minutes after the record had stopped I realised that they weren’t just doing a long / quiet atmospheric outro, so attuned to the surroundings were my ears.

I was given this CD the best part of a year ago and I managed to mislay the disc, which is pretty stupid of me. So it may be that due to the delay the limited edition of 100 is down to the last copies. So you should definitely get it now, lose it, then excitedly write a review about it shortly after because it’s a lush record.

-Kev Nickells-

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