Woodland Telegraph- Screendeath Summersong review   Leave a comment


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Woodland Telegraph Screendeath Summersong Northern Folklore

Woodland Telegraph, Matthew Lovegrove and a cast of collaborators, have released the final component in their multi-year odyssey to define and refine our relationship with nature. Screendeath Summersong is a departure, less obviously folk in nature, with the natural world presented in our relationships dedicated through technology.

Similar in spirit and conception to Shuyler Jansen’s recent The Long Shadow, Screendeath Summersong is ambitious in scope and execution. I’m certain I don’t grasp its philosophical motivation, but I do appreciate it as a recording project.

Unified in sound and vision, the fourteen songscapes reminds of a time when artists—be they David Bowie, Ohama, or Bauhaus—experimented with ambient qualities to construct mystical music that challenged, confounded, and enlightened. Similar to those artists’ recordings, the album works singularly as a forty-minute opus, as well as individual pieces encountered randomly. “Fighting For The Feeling,” a male-female duet, works most assuredly as a pop song, as does “Screens.” Instrumental interludes allow for aural set changes between pieces.

“Forests on the Edge of Factories” captures the push-pull duality of the natural and technological worlds we inhabit. As once XTC did, Woodland Telegraph hides introspection in rock n roll verse: we may not grasp the significance today, but eventually enlightenment will be revealed.

“Summerblood” and “Breathing the Numbers Out” do not belong beside the banjo-charged “Follow Free,” but it all works given the breadth of the recording. Tension builds achieving fruition in the crescendo that is “Springtime Computers”: “Instead of seeing birds perched on fire escapes I’m seeing what the April showers really bring; there was a forest of wires in my mind—there was a change coming down the line.”

Screendeath Summersong will not replace …Sings Revival Hymns and From the Fields as my favoured Woodland Telegraph recordings. It is cooler than those recordings, more abstract certainly. Despite this distance, I can appreciate it for what it is—a mirror of our time, a portrait of who we have become as pixels, bytes, and http:// replace bark, stream, and soil we once touched, heard, and smelled.

Or something like that.

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