The Bright Day Is Gone
by Children Of The Stones
Deserted Village : DV26 : 2006
wav / flac / mp3
Two years of recording and another two years of post-production have gone into crafting "The Bright Day Is Gone" - the debut album from Children Of The Stones. Now at last it is finished and ready to ship. This is a dazzling concept album of Piano-Poptronic power ballads set in a post-apocalyptic night-time world in which the past and the future are embroiled in a desperate race for the last place aboard the last refugee ship to outer space, due to leave the planet at dawn from the South Pole (but maybe from the North). And for the loser? Nothing less than ABSOLUTE extinction.
The bright day is gone and we are for the dust and the earth still abides though we die...
Review from Evening Of Light 8/10
If there ever was a hotbed of creativity, it's definitely the people around United Bible Studies in Ireland. Besides numerous release from the collective itself, we've also seen a lot of great stuff by David Colohan's Agitated Radio Pilot, to name just one of many related projects. Children of the Stones is another such project, which is in a way like the others, but also has an approach of its own. The music and name of the project, by the way, are a direct reference to the 1970's British magical realist children's series of the same name (see Wikipedia). Instrumentals are mixed with piano songs, but also cold ambient passages, and that makes for a unique album.
I'm not sure exactly which members are involved in this project, but I presume United Bible Studies' Gavin is among them, and David Colohan surely is, because he lends his vocals to this album. Opener "Here Lives the Moon" is a relatively warm track, perhaps most like United Bible Studies than any other track, and the beginning is deceptive. If you're expecting more of the same freefolk warmth, you're mistaken. "The Pale Stars Alone (Over a Quiet Earth)" introduces David's vocals over piano and harpsichord in a melancholic song, sparse and cold in its atmosphere. "Sparks of Frost" is instrumental, but continues a bit of the glittering nighttime atmosphere. "Day is Done" is indeed a Nick Drake cover, but instead of warm guitar, we get chilly synths and faint electronic beats in a very moody version indeed. "Where Amongst the Ruins" and "Poor Scott" are two final piano songs with great lyrics and sad atmosphere, even vaguely reminding me of Current 93's Soft Black Stars. Then we're halfway, lengthwise, and we enter into yet another new musical territory. "Fog on the Womb Road" is a sublime, ice cold ambient track, based solely on synth choirs. This one sends shivers down my spine. "The Interior Left Empty" takes us deeper into darkness, with twelve minutes of minimalist ambience, based on thin waves, high pitched synth wails, and spooky sound effects. Only at the very end of the album does the darkness retreat before the warmer tones of the rising sun, in the solace of a guitar-based instrumental.
What can I say? The output of these Irishmen is not only impressive in terms of quantity, but the quality is certainly there as well. This album could be a bit better in terms of performance and sound here and there, but it is original and exciting through and through. 2006 turned out to be not only the year of two excellent Agitated Radio Pilot and United Bible Studies albums, but also of this little gem. Recommended to any fan of Deserted Village material, as well as those interested in original mixtures of song, acoustics and ambient.
Review by Mark Coyle, Harvest Home
Our first Compact Disc is from the excitingly named 'Children of the Stones', a band name which is taken from the Children's Sci-Fi TV drama of the 1970s. It also released possibly to the idealist hippies of the final bleak Quatermass series. These hippies sought to escape the apocalypse by aliens coming down at Stonehenge for them to ascend into the space ships (when infact they were being harvested by the aliens). Here is the same bleakness, the same feeling of escape from our decay.
On this mini-album 'The Bright Day is Gone' the music has acousitc folk merged with analogue Moog like synths, a hazy dream like atmosphere and languid songs. Our closest comparison is the earlier 'Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon' album 'In A Light...' available as a download at Woven Wheat Whispers.
It moves from the 1970s radiophonic workshop stylings of 'Here Lives The Moon' to the electric piano, harpsicord and oboe backing traditional folk melody of 'The Pale Stars Alone (Over A Quiet Earth)' across the first two songs. 'Sparks of Frost' has a sense of remoteness, of undisturbed stillness in the early hours.
Covering Nick Drake's 'Day Is Done' is fitting, performed in an uneasy way with slow sweeping synth notes, matter of fact vocals and drum machine. It reminds of No-Man and especially David Sylvian. 'Where Among The Ruins' is a jaunty piano-parlour song with curious lyrics of 'the sun creeps up like bloody lips upon a cup, a chalice for our sins'' and interestingly 'where amongst the ruins should we build our new home, now we danced our own undoing amongst the pale stars alone' referring back to the earlier song title. Further reading at the Deserted Village site showed the album does have an escape from the apocalypse concept which seems to seep into each piece.
'Poor Scott' is even more introspective with meditative organ and plaintive piano on a song reminding of Talk Talk at their most fragile or The Blue Nile's 'Family Life' especially when the quite beautifully sad string sounds enter. 'Fog On The Womb Road' revelas perhaps the need for respite at the heart of this album, evidenced too in evoking the cosy strangeness of the 1970s in the mini-album title. As a whole a sense of this Compact Disc being an exploration of a more deliberately lonesome place. This is desolately empty, just a sustained choral voice and the subtlest of synth notes behind. But there is solace here, even elegance. It is profoundly moving, so out of touch, so alone. It gives voice to feelings that words cannot convey, that feeling of being lost for a while in your own head, stood still as the world whirls around you.
'The Interior Left Empty' is a yet more haunted ambient piece, metallic aching notes drift on endlessly, time left behind, only dust and decay remaining. All too soon we end with 'Here lives The Sun', starting as an ambient drone, a banjo joins in placing a soft folk refrain, humanity is restored. Loneliness does not seem such a desolate place to be.
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Review by Tony Dale,Terrascope
Children of the Stones is one of those mysterious Deserted Village projects where a group of villagers hack a new path through the surrounding foliage, taking a journey that they haven't necessarily planned out all the details of beforehand or indeed even taken all of the necessary supplies for, but somehow ending up with a valuable experience arising from the process. The band name comes from the 1977 British TV series about a scientist and his son who investigate the psychic forces controlling a small English village which is surrounded by a circle of giant Neolithic stones (The story was suggested by the real-life village of Avebury in Wiltshire where the series was filmed). Sonically they pay tribute to all sorts of influenzas that don't necessarily fit into the United Bible Studies mould directly: eerie sci-fi soundscapes of the 60s BBC Radiophonic Workshop variety, perverse obsessions with synth-pop duos, and various species of lo-fi electronica. But somehow it seems to connect back to projects like Agitated Radio Pilot, Townparks Foundry anyway, so the continuum continues, um...I think. Personnel are not listed, but some digging reveals that Dave Colohan collaborates mainly with Shane and Scott Village for these recordings. 'Here Lives the Moon' creates a shimmering landscape of lunar light from deep wells of bass, antique electrical oscillations and floating vocals. It's one of those ideal openers that totally induct you into the world of the record. 'The Pale Star Alone (Over a Quiet Earth)' sounds like vintage British post-ISB progressive folk with it's odd time signature and dancing piano – Forest and Spirogyra come to mind. After the electronic interlude of 'Sparks of Frost', a chilling cover of Nick Drake's 'Day is Done' settles like a snowfall; it's a little like latter-day Talk Talk played back through black boxes for which the instruction manuals have long since turned to dust. The skeletal piano dance returns for 'Where amongst the Ruins' which winds multi-tracked vocals around a truly arresting melody. 'Poor Scott' stays in chilly step - a gaunt, exhausted exploration of Scott's Antarctic expedition. Two desolate ambient pieces follow - 'Fog on the Womb Road' and 'The Interior Left Empty' - which trade in disembodied choral voices, layered drones and abstracted machine noise. In describing this CD-R it comes across as more inaccessible than it really is. Despite the chill across much of it, great beauty is to be found within its varied audio-scapes.
* * *
review by Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta
Stealing the title from a late 70s British series for kids, Children of the Stones debut is an awfully spooky affair. Take equal parts Robert Wyatt circa "Rock Bottom", strip away some of the instruments down to bare minimum and add a truly haunting 12 minute drone track [scrapes on cymbals?] that sounds like people screaming out for mercy and you've got this band nailed. Sombre and genuinely moving, "The Bright Day is Gone" is freaky spook fest.