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There is a thing rather stunning about the sound of a guitar played nicely…I am not speaking about histrionic solos or brain melting shredding (while they are rather stunning in their personal way)…I am speaking about the understated splendour, the unadorned grandeur of playing a la Loren Connors or Dean McPhee. It is in this enterprise that I would spot Andy Cartwright’s Seabuckthorn project. For these who are not au fait with these names then you are in for a true treat. ‘A Property With As well Considerably Fire’ is Cartwright’s ninth release beneath the Seabuckthorn name and was influenced by the mountain terrain immediately after relocating to the Southern Alps. It also sees some new components added to his typical palette, namely banjo, clarinet & synthesizer. These merely accentuate Cartwright’s ability and vision in applying the guitar to build cinematic soundscapes and alluring vistas. The album is out on June 1st by means of the great Bookmaker Records in collaboration with La Cordillère
Title track ‘A Property With As well Considerably Fire’ opens the album and straight away we are thrown into a bucolic paradise with Cartwright’s tremulous guitar increasing and falling and backed with some sonorous drones and melancholic swathes of sound. It has an inherent feeling of suspense…that feeling you get when you know a thing is going to take place except it does not….it keeps you gripped and hanging on to the edge. ‘Inner’ has a uncommon point..a beat, tribal in aspect and complementing the introspective guitar. There are far more lush drones that weave in and amongst the beat / guitar mixture and it is all rather stunning. ‘Disentangled’ sees Cartwright wring some exotic, faltering Eastern motifs from his guitar…a thing practically flamenco, practically classical but when sitting atop far more beautiful drones it is lifted into that experimental/ambient bracket that several attempt and not several attain…but Cartwright most assuredly does. ‘It Was Aglow’ sees the banjo make an look….not generally an instrument that 1 would associate with pastoral beauty but such is Cartwright’s ability as each performer and composer that the instrument complements the delicate guitar choosing. ‘Blackout’ is an absolute peach of a track…layer upon layer of bowed guitar drone and a slow and steady beat act as a bed on which languish flourishes of clarinet and flashes of guitar strums…it is extremely immersive and has a energy that belies the languid tempo. ‘What The Shepherds Contact Ghosts’ sees Cartwright return to his neo-classical choosing this track seriously highlights what a excellent guitarist this man is! The layering of guitar components build a sonic tapestry of richness and tone and it all comes with each other to type a point of exceptional allure. ‘Submerged Past’ initially feels like a ‘regular’ song but it grows and evolves into an additional masterclass in subtlety and charm – fairly significantly just guitar for the most element but as it progresses it becomes a thing far more ‘folky’ with a vague hint of a beat and tiny cameos of echo and delay mix points up a bit..it is definitely beautiful…and paves the way for ‘Somewhat Like Vision’. A further drone primarily based track…the bowing of the guitar when once more generating an alternate universe, 1 in which beauty is revered and material possessions are redundant…an idyll for which Cartwright is writing the score. ‘Figure Afar’ is a showcase of bowed guitar..the resonant drone it can generate is highly effective however refined and adds an otherwordly element to the music, 1 which is once more utilised to wonderful impact in album closer ‘Sent In By The Cold’ – a track with a sense of the melancholy and the tragic..like the telling of tales of shipwrecks and disaster. A suitably dramatic way in which to close a great, great record.
‘A Property With As well Considerably Fire’ is a excellent instance of craftmanship – Cartwright’s use of diverse strategies – bowing, fingerpicking & the use of slides – and all carried out adroitly, shows what a correct master of his instrument he is. He creates atmospheres that evoke feelings in the listener, transporting them aloft on wings of texture and tonality. As with other wonderful guitarists in this style..once more I am pondering of Loren Connors and Dean McPhee..it is what is left out that provides these tracks their energy and influence there are no unnecessary passages of showboating or superfluous grandstanding. Almost everything has its spot and it is meticulously, and sensitively, constructed and however appears so spontaneously organic….seriously, this guy is a genius! ‘A Property With As well Considerably Fire’ is out on June 1st and can be bought by means of the Bookmaker Records webshop right here in vinyl format or as a download from the Seabuckthorn Bandcamp web page right here. The vinyl can also be ordered by means of the La Cordillère website right here.
A Property With As well Considerably Fire by Seabuckthorn