Songs of Green Pheasant is one man, 30 year old Duncan Sumpner who’s an artist / teacher from Sheffield. After the collection of out-takes, early material and demo’s of 2006’s Aerial Days, Gyllyng Street sees a more expansive and accomplished take on his post-folk instrumentals. The songs are often sparse and delicately arranged whilst Sumpner’s whispered vocals murmur and float across them.
What we have here is an album completely unconcerned with fashion or, seemingly, the outside world. The front cover evokes feelings of solace and isolation and the music contained within echoes these and yet never falls into the description of boring or depressing. It reminds me of the more instrumental offerings from Doves or Talk Talk circa their masterpiece, Sprit of Eden, where every instrument was used to inspire and carry a feeling or emotion. In fact West Coast Profiling wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Doves Lost Souls, raked pierces of electric guitars stream over a strummed acoustic guitar whilst gentle ripples of rhythm ache beneath.
The eight minute centre-piece of Alex Drifting Alone perfectly conjures up floating along a river on a summers day. The lone trumpet quietly arching over the gentle drums and practically spoken vocals. This is mirrored on the album closer A Sketch for Maenporth. The sounds of a boat being rowed on a river aping Pink Floyd’s Signs Of Life, guitar chords puncture the river-born silence, picking out a song from practically nothing. In fact, Gyllyng Street feels like the perfect 21st Century answer to Floyd’s Meddle. This is an album that explores rhythms and the structure of songs. Crafting folk-tinged melodies with post-rock roots, the instrumentation may be king here, but the presence of vocals lift this out of the norm. Delicate sonic exploration, if you want a succinct description. If this is what they’re teaching in schools in Sheffield, then I think the National Curriculum is spot on.
Songs of Green Pheasant [fat cat]