Flames, Doorways, Grass and Time –  Grasslands (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a4021061656_16Mercurial, that’s the word! Well, that’s one word at least. It seems that many words and descriptions come and go through the listeners, and indeed the reviewers, mind as Grasslands’ music slips through the brain. The same thing happens if you try to pigeon-hole it, depending on which thread you pull at different genres spill out of the musical mass. Tug at the underlying acoustic guitarwork and you find folk textures, but as you pull they slowly reveal themselves to be cacooned in warped industrial grit. Similarly harmless pop melodies are found to be swathed in angular edges and smooth synths warp out to spacey ambience or turn in on themselves to become intense and claustraphobic bundles of pent up energy. I don’t know where you begin, I really don’t. The only guidelines I have from the main man himself is that he was aiming for “digitally corrupted folk music through a broken radio” I reckon that is a fair description.

But let’s at least start on the safer ground of some indesputable facts. The album apparently began as a series of sound experiments used as incidental effects and a score to a production of 1984, many were initiated quickly and some are fully live recordings. So I guess this album is less about writing songs with the main consideration being the live show, this is sound statements taken to their logical, and sometimes illogical, conclusions through studio playfulness and experimentation, a sonically suck it and see scenario, worry about how you re-produce them live later. Just how it should be.

The result is a manic, genre-bluring collection of retro-futuristic songs, in that it sounds like what the 21st centuary might sound like in the imagination of an early eighties post-punker, one who had grown bored with blues-based, three chord guitar possibilities and had rewired some broken keyboards and bent them to their will.

I’m not really helping paint a clear picture, but the album is such a collection of sonic wonderment and strange folktronic experimentation, blending progressive structures with brilliant pop aware melodies and some wonderful avant-gardening, that it is difficult to put into words, ones which I haven’t made up for vague dramatic affect anyway.

At this point I would normally resort to lazy journalism and throw in a few comparisons, such as…..errr, no…sorry, nothing. I guess Flames, Doorways, Grass and Time is just impervious to journalistic disection. Still the man behind it can’t really complain, people who live in grass houses and all that….

So my advice to you is, just buy it, buy it today, after all there is no thyme like the present and it is always good to end on a couple of puns.

Pre-order and further info HERE

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