The Hieroglyphic Mountain
by Xenis Emputae Travelling Band
Deserted Village : DV15 : 2005
XETB's travelogue of experiments in Wharfedale and on the North Yorkshire coast.
"His music is borne of the dirt and rock from the Earth, and his greatest ability is in transferring those elements into music. These sounds are at times eerie and at other times inspiring." - Brad Rose, Foxy Digitalis.
usic is borne of the dirt and rock from the Earth, and his greatest ability is in transferring those elements into music. These sounds are at times eerie and at other times inspiring.[/it]" - Brad Rose, Foxy Digitalis.
Originally released as a CDR (DV15) in 2004.
The Hieroglyphic Mountain is now available as a download from the XETB Bandcamp.
Phil Legards Sleevenotes for The Hieroglyphic Mountain
I usually try to avoid being too verbose about the music of XETB – too much wordplay perhaps removes something of the spirit of the music. However, for the curious here's a little background information about the tracks.
Wind Quartet - Probably the most elemental track, since some of the instrumentation was provided by weighted strings hung from a large tree being swung over a guitar's strings, a drum and singing bowl. This was recorded in the garden of my girlfriend's old house.
Hieroglyphic Mountain - Appended to Wind Quartet, a little tune that Just happened... The title derives from alchemically inspired wordplay - I've been studying John Dee's Hieroglyphic Monad for a couple of years. In some of the Rosicrucian works that follow there seems to be some interplay between the Latin word for Rose and Dew (ros). The title comes from playing around with the word Monad (Greek: the one) and intuitively identifying it with the Gaelic Monadh, the Latin Mons and so on.
New Light at Thornborough - The three henges of Thornborough in North Yorkshire are prehistoric clearings quite colossal in their size, which are under threat from quarrying (see http://www.heritageaction.org/thornborough.html). After failing to find them a couple of times, I eventually got to them as the sun struggling on the horizon on a cold January day. This is a channelling of some forgotten ritual music.
Nick's Drone - The bare bones of this were conceived at Troller's Gill, a strange spot in Wharfdale. A very strange limestone crag, very much like something from Middle Earth and always seemingly strewn with the bones of small animals - not surprising since it's supposed to be the haunt of the Barguest! I remember being taken there as a child by my aunt and uncle and the memory stayed with me until I was able to revisit - I've recently been doing a lot more recordings in this area... This track is named for Nick Davey of TM-Industries who encouraged XETB in the early days.
Blue Man in the Moss - Blue Man in the Moss stands on the open moorland of Wheeldale Moor. It's one of the markers on the gruelling 40 mile Lyke Wake Walk (named after the Lyke Wake Dirge, recorded on New Etheric Muse...) - but for the less hardy it can be easily reached from Goathland. A strange stone worked by the weather and human hands, and the intersection of several leys. After recording this track I also found out that the black clad morris dancing side from Whitby, the Jet Set, do a dance with the same name, to the
tune of The Fairy Hornpipe.
Dew Transmitter - A chance meeting with a mechatronics student with an interest in slow-scan tv (certainly the most occult of all methods of communication!) led to a short project of hermetic transmissions, one of which can be heard being broadcast in the background of this track. The other instrumentation is provided by brass pentacles, singing bowl, and heavy rain recorded inside Kirklington church.
Chapel of Infinite Echo - The chapel in question isn't a chapel, but WhitbyAbbey. I was removed from the Abbey by English Heritage in 2002 while attempting to do some guerilla recording in tribute to Caedmon. Rather than risk a repeat this was in part recorded on the beach. I think this takes my obsession with reverb about as far as it can go...! Dedicated to the Feedback Warrior of Truro.
Review from Vital Weekly
Also the Xenis Emputae Travelling Band have been reviewed before (Vital Weekly 330 and 386) and those previous works were influenced by Zoviet*France, with their improvisations on synths, metallic percussion and flutes. I imagine them being in a wooden shed, sitting on the floor and improvising the night away until dawn arrives. Later on these recordings are edited and the best pieces are released on CDR. Here too folky influences, but on a much more psychedelic level. I must say I quite enjoy this, but maybe it's because I realize I haven't paid my Zoviet*France much attention lately.
English sound artist Phil Legard is like a mystic from another time. He is trapped in the modern day, but constantly channels the past. With his Larkfall imprint and his multiple music and writing projects, he communicates with an ethereal world that is sometimes forgotten. With his flagship project, Xenis Emputae Travelling Band, Legard takes us on a journey through the hills of England and the history of a country with deep mystical ties.
Acoustic improvisations dominate the landscape of "The Hieroglyphic Mountain." Recorded on mostly on location in the fields and forests of North Yorkshire, this album's organic supernatural feel comes blaring through the speakers. But don't be fooled, this is a quiet, understated album; the spiritual undercurrents, however, can be felt by even the staunchest cynic around. This music has a soul that is deeply rooted in the past. Legard wants his listeners to remember time gone by, and his beautiful, transcendental music harks back to such a period. There's an almost medieval aspect to these songs that is powerful and beautiful at the same time.
One listen to "New Light at Thornborough," and it's as if you're listening to Legard tell ghost stories by a campfire. Wooden flutes and wailing drones depict a vaporous world where the tangible is forgotten, and the spirit reigns supreme. The warmth in this tracks hints at a collective conscious that unites all of us. It's like a million quiet voices combining into one that is mighty. It's the woodwind instrumentation, though, that moves me the most. It's enchanting. The more I listen, the more I am drawn in. It's almost like being put in a trance, where you watch shadows dance before you. Mesmerizing and moving, this is XETB at its best. This song simply floats around your skull. Eventually, you give up and let it seep in. This is truly wonderful.
There are other moments on "The Hieroglyphic Mountain" that are equally impressive. The near-17 minute whimsical drone of "Chapel of Infinite Echo" closes the album impressively. Distorted, murky guitars flow like a river of tar underneath the airy flutes. It's like a sprite dancing above evil spooks, remaining just out of their collective reach. Try as they may, there is no reeling her in. I love the dichotomy of the two sounds here. It adds depth to this track and keeps it moving along smoothly. Also impressive is Legard's incorporation of field recordings into the end of the piece. The quiet atmosphere on the last 1/3 of the song slowly brings the listener down after being in a heightened state of awareness throughout the rest of this excellent album.
I had never heard anything from Phil Legard prior to this CD-R, but after multiple listens I am hooked. I am convinced that there are few people in music who understand the intrinsic beauty nature bears like Legard. It's a testament to his talent and ability. He is shephard of the past that wants to lead people into a future full of green forests, grassy fields, and majestic mountains. His music borne of the dirt and rock from the Earth, and his greatest ability is in transferring those elements into music. These sounds are at times eerie and at other times inspiring. In conjunction, it makes for an exciting and inspiring listening experience. This is simply excellent.
- Brad Rose, Foxy Digitalis