Dusted Reviews

Songs of Green Pheasant - Songs of Green Pheasant

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Songs of Green Pheasant

Album: Songs of Green Pheasant

Label: FatCat

Review date: Oct. 30, 2005

The avian handle and predilection for woodland jangle may at first imply Songs of Green Pheasant’s place among the campfire genus of the Animal Collective or the Jewelled Antler’s fauna. But in fact this succinct, self-titled debut album plays like the imagined artifact of a different, largely vanished race of psychedelic life. Songs of Green Pheasant echoes that evanescent episode that came after what Nitsuh Abebe calls “The Lost Generation” of English avant-indie when shoegazers, along with other practitioners of proto-post-rock etherea, disappeared into pastoral abstraction.

Duncan Sumpner, the man who is Songs, was 20 in 1995 during the slow swishpan from Stereolab’s mono-jangle to the fractal spumes of Flying Saucer Attack. All over Sumpner’s own amorphous songs, pale traces of past modes linger, though never overwhelming his own crepuscular compositions. Opener “I Am Daylights” seeps in with dewy decibels, Sumpner’s voice gently gliding layered melodies in cathedral reverb with a similar, soft intonation to Slowdive’s Neil Halstead. But while some – Morr Music generally and Ulrich Schnauss specifically – have made it a business model of mining Halstead’s short-lived drone-pop quintet for new electronic horizons, Sumpner has managed a return to the source with medium specificity – guitars and FX boxes – that opens another route to blue skied an’ clear brilliance. Somewhere between Souvlaki’s astral anthems and the phantom bends of Pygmalion is where Sumpner’s Songs lingers. (Or perhaps, it’s where Halstead’s band should have gone instead of grave digging for some serious Nick Drake necrophilia as the Mojave 3.)

Though largely acoustic and wholly one-man-made, Sumpner never lets his material grow stale nor slacken into a noodly broth. There’s always a slight turn, an erasure or alteration indicating the fluidity of these songs. Pocket-sized ballads like the lilting “Knulp” and aching “Until…” drift towards unexpected and perfectly clipped cadences. “The Burning Man” has the same midnight mottling of Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair,” itself once covered by Halstead in fact.

Home recorded, in a kitchen actually, Songs’s production has just the right consistency of murk. A layer of translucent gunk coats each track making the glistening colors underneath come through as gradients of white light. The clanging, distorted coda to “Nightfall (for Boris P.)” – one of the few electric passages on the record – buzzes with a fitting flatness while the bedroom beats carrying “The Wraiths of Loving” – shades of Seefeel’s liquid machinations – benefit from the leveled audio range. No exactly lo-fi, the thin sonic muddle of Songs, however, adds a suitably spectral quality.

But not merely a fine Madeleine for retroactive mind-trips, the Songs LP is a small gleam of a radiant present. It may cite, most likely without intention, an almost decade-old set of modalities, but it can also belong among today’s folk frequencies. The real issue is what exactly Sumpner, or Songs for Green Pheasant, will become. Will he continue a home-taping troubadour? Will he join up with others? Is there a laptop in his future? Beginning or end, nodal point or stand-alone, Songs of Green Pheasant will always be a welcome addition.

By Bernardo Rondeau

Other Reviews of Songs of Green Pheasant

Aerial Days

Soft Wounds

Read More

View all articles by Bernardo Rondeau

Find out more about FatCat

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.