by United Bible Studies & Jozef van Wissem
Deserted Village/Incunabulum : DV40/inc 012 lp : 2011
Vinyl LP + Download
The album title 'Downland' is a play both on van Wissem's Lowlands home, and the Renaissance Lute composer John Dowland, rumoured to have been born in Ireland. The seeds of this collaboration were sown in late 2007, when United Bible Studies were part of the bill for van Wissem's first Irish concert. He was particularly taken with Paul Condon's bass playing and eventually wrote a piece with this in mind, which became the ecstatic 'Come Holy Ghost'. Van Wissem began recording tracks for United Bible Studies to overdub and a postal collaboration began in earnest in 2009.
Numbered edition of 300 LPs in silk-screened covers. Each LP includes a free download code.
Improv Lutist and outer-fringes collaborator extraordinaire Wissem here joins hands with cult Irish types United Bible Studies. From the off this is a lush sounding record, title track 'Downland' sounding a little like James Blackshaw gone all cosmic and that with whooshing astral noises & an ominous drone being the undercurrent beneath some sweet thoughtful guitar. UBS vocalist Alison O' Donell pops up with her wide-eyed theatrical tones on the second track 'Seven Tears', a song imbued with meandering psych-rock elements under the jaunty acoustic guitar. Side one ends with a piece of stuttering, stumbling de-tuned experimentation that remains largely listenable due to its use of field recordings, intimate acoustics & blatant drunken charm. The opening track of side two sounds quite demented in a barking acid folk pixie way. Has me thinking of Comus or Gong in spirit. It's certainly a wide-eyed cyclic, gibbering sprite of a tune. Like the space invader noise throughout. You can never have too many space invader noises on a record. On the subsequent tune Wissem's feminine vocals are found fleshing-out an impassioned piece of haughty folk minimalism. The penultimate track is a more challenging, difficult beast that folds both ethereal, medieval & discordant rock elements. One for fans of Trembling Bells & the more esoteric end of Appendix Out, the closer is a magical dream-like folk-rock piece with choral vocals, chiming acoustic interplay and there's even what sounds like a hurdy gurdy in there. A cracking conclusion to a most interesting and diverse collection.
- Brian,Norman Records