Jon Brooks – Shapwick (2014)

Caught in the crossfire of the unlikely short-lived war between folk music and the Radiophonic Workshop, Jon Brook comes out with an album that haunts and charms in equal measures. Here the experimental is tinged with the melodic, or is it the other way about?

‘Walking from Wood Green’ is so 1960s you can imagine Patrick Troughton pottering around a planet that looks like a Welsh quarry. ‘In the Slow Cold Air’ is a child’s music box that should be pretty. It isn’t, it’s creepy. Likewise, ‘Of Stick And String’ is a lullaby sung to you as the coven prepare you for the midnight sacrifice, Vincent Price sharpening the dagger.

‘Spanish Moth’, ‘Quiet Movement For A Silent Night’ and ‘Winter Hamlet’ are simply gorgeous piano pieces; partway between John Cale Paris 1919 and The Durutti Column’s LC. ‘Twelve Woods’ is a 1950s village postcard, Alastair Sims the local vicar.

‘Small Scales, Shrunken Spaces’ and ‘Narrow Lanes Ends’ adds a feeling of ascension and calm to take us right into the soundtrack of a SNES RPG. All is peaceful now. but there is an adventure about to begin. The ship is here, our ride is about to leave…

Meanwhile ‘Batwalk’ is a country amble that could well be from the last recorded footage of missing hikers in the woods. ‘Echo Location’ pretty much does what it says on the tin. ‘…little apple…’ is the sounding of an inter-dimensional monstrosity.

On the lighter end, ‘Please Drive Carefully, turns a refined Tangerine Dream jam into a focused pop song with a sad, stately piano that recalls Joy Division’s Closer. ‘Neap Tide’ recasts The Third Man‘s zither ‘n’ spies music for an a countryside disaster.

A wonder down a quiet country lane could bring you to some surprising places…


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