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Lawrence English - The Peregrine

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Artist: Lawrence English

Album: The Peregrine

Label: Experimedia

Review date: Jan. 11, 2012

The video for Lawrence English’s “December 24, Frost’s Bitter Grip” shows a sequence of blurred shots of Peregrine falcons in flight, the most breathtaking of which sees the majestic bird become indistinguishable from what one could imagine as a ball of white fire falling from the sky. A cross-fade then reveals a closer shot of one of the birds twisting in air, its form, for a split second, resembling that of a mighty archangel’s before its body contorts and escapes from view.

English’s infatuation with birds has been with him since a young age, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when he came across J.A. Baker’s book The Peregrine that he was able to begin piecing together the ideas for what would eventually become his 2011 tribute. English claims that his version of The Peregrine is an homage to Baker’s, but he’s careful to point out that it’s much more than that. In a recent interview with the website Foxy Digitalis, he admitted it took several years to allow the book’s words to sink deep enough before he felt truly inspired by them. English also mentioned Baker’s stirring descriptions of motions, colors and landscapes that allowed for a very organic crossover to sound, as if the language itself was suggesting the direction of the music.

In so far as Baker’s use of language gave way to sound, English’s use of sound suggests language, or better yet, a story. English’s story is one of an abstract dialogue, an on-going tale of the relationship between animals and their ecosystems, between the birds of the sky and the roots of trees buried deep in landscapes. It’s a narrative that alludes to the austerity of life, its wildness, baroness and stillness. It’s a story of deserts and forests and the vastness of skies that are the endless territories of owls, eagles, hawks, and yes, falcons.

For the sake of context, I could compare The Peregrine with other albums by English. I could say things like: the soft-focus ambience and sunken melodies deployed are more similar to ‘08’s Kiri No Oto than the popular A Colour for Autumn. I could dive into tidbits about English’s collaborative works, the activities of his Room40 label, or fixate on Tim Hecker’s undeserving -- though inadvertent -- stealing of all the limelight. I could go into detail about these things, but I’ve already said too much.

As much as The Peregrine possesses a lifetime’s worth of ideas, and as much as I think everyone should hear it, I can’t help but shake the feeling that maybe English should have left this one for himself. But no, it’s out in the world to be consumed and eventually filed away, because only English can look back years from now to see, not a relic from the vinyl renaissance, but a humble memoranda of the time, when on a whim, a book was picked up, and few words were read.

By Adrian Dziewanski

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