Ears For Eyes will be taking regular dives into the recent outputs of some excellent labels. This first round up features Chapel Yard, a label from North Yorkshire that has been transmitting some amazing and awestruck music this year. Here, we look at their last five releases, beginning with…
‘LP’ by Corsica_S is a an album of drift and roaring drone, sharp splinters of noise intruding like street lamp lit snow flurries. Visually evocative, it paints a vista of multi hued chilly twilights, the sleepy calm following a brash sunset. The quiet is often interrupted by clicks and gusting winds, a garble of tannoy voices washed in thin rainy granules of fuzz, sharp feedback whistles and wobbling fluctuating bass tones. Their music is perfectly becalming; an ever-present roar, a ripping current of drone, ensures it never becomes too soporific; a harnessed wonderful bellow, like wind between mountains. The entire album is achingly sad but awe struck, pervaded with a poignant pulse-slowing wonder; a sense of time coursing and flowing, appropriately given that it is structured around the days of the week. Penultimate track ‘Saturday’ is stunning, a great example of shaped and honed noise; what could be a savage attack is instead blunted enough to excite without removing the friction that makes it so engaging. ‘LP’ is an almost physically tactile grainy ambient music, a beautiful introduction to the label.
‘EP4’ by Raining Leaf and Corsica_S is plodding and sad but in no way pedestrian; their compositions are full of slow considered movement. Unfolding languidly, their melodies in no rush to reach any kind of catharsis, they unfold naturally and patiently. Sweetly picked guitars, notes sometimes caught and spun backwards in opposition to the main thrust of movement; like brief eddies in a thickly flowing river. Thick with tape fuzz, low-end moans, and stops-out organ rumble; overtones generated from solid overlapping blocks of pipe wobble.
Raining Leaf’s ‘Gemini’ begins with a rush of wind and a slowly emerging hum, instantly captivating. Its contours emerge slowly as if through fog; synthesised strings like Popul Vuh glimpsed in the haze. The lengthy slowly unfolding compositions are loose and inviting, a baggy jumper of sound. ‘Gemini’ is eclectic without being whimsical; it combines burbling techno; the tinkling shards of bent and twisted guitar notes tossed around by bouncing bass; twitching clicks rushing over screaming gaseous amp feedback. The whole thing is playful, inventive, and energetic. The drums of ‘Belles of Amsterdam’ resound within a large echo chamber, mixed with xylophone and the occasional rock-slide of noise; vaguely like ‘Alberto Balsam’ in a huge steel wind tunnel, clanking and groaning with metallic distress. The wilted rave arpeggios and insect chitter of ‘Ballad of Ariel Tweto’, beat like hundreds of tiny syncopated claps. The album even finds room for for the scorched bit-crushed video-game sugar rush of ‘Emulator’.
Reminiscent of 1970s German rock experimentation, but with a late 90s Warp slant, ‘Gemini’ taps incredibly fertile soil in a way that refences past groups without copying them. Raining Leaf make songs entirely their own, music of quiet unassuming eminence; electronica and avant-rock so intertwined you couldn’t fit a hair betwixt them; a winning and charming, utterly successful fusion where so many other groups fail to integrate their multiple ideas. Weighty but unpretentious, eclectic but focussed, this is a lesson in wide-minded generous music making.
‘The Infinite Whole’ by Dear God is no less interesting but in place of the previous albums multiplicity of styles, it focuses on a narrower spectrum, quietly devastating with slow circling piano melodies, bass drones, flickering electronics, and deep plunging hums. A mournful album; with beautiful sadness, its arrangements drift along delicately; emotionally moving in their simplicity, tunes tossed into a softly falling snow storm. ‘The Infinite Whole‘ is deceptively gentle but with a strong current of loss and melancholy.
Isobel Ccircle is a collaboration between Matt Bower and April Larsen; their EP ‘Eyes in the Ground’ is remarkable. Deeply weird, even if you’re familiar with their solo work, it manages to be at once forbiddingly alien and deeply, stunningly beautiful. Opener ‘I Live Through Death’ pairs April’s piercing drone with Matt’s strange subterranean cracklings; it sounds like glaciers breaking apart, monitored from the far-future sea bed by gilled post-humans. The detail in the production is amazing, clanging pipes, vastly magnified vinyl crackle, singing primordial birds, scrambled xeno-broadcasts, melted audio files played through mile high stone chimneys; it has a whole world of sound in which to wander. Put your head phones on, sit in the dark and let this stunning EP take you away to abandoned and impossibly old temples, locked in undiscovered ice-sealed isolation.
What unites the various Chapel Yard releases is their combination of emotional heaviness and sonic invention; they have a gripping attention to detail and smeared structures without forgetting to build in poignant and blissful music. Chapel Yard is a label to spend time with, a trusty and reliable guide that will take you out onto chilly, forbidding but vastly beautiful tundra of drifting drone and sparkling starlight; night-music of great distinction.
Purchase music from Chapel Yard Records here. Do yourselt a favour and get all of it.