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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 Englishís ďDecember 24, Frostís Bitter GripĒ 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 archangelís before its body contorts and escapes from view.

Englishís infatuation with birds has been with him since a young age, but it wasnít until a few years ago when he came across J.A. Bakerís 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 Bakerís, but heís careful to point out that itís much more than that. In a recent interview with the website Foxy Digitalis, he admitted it took several years to allow the bookís words to sink deep enough before he felt truly inspired by them. English also mentioned Bakerís 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 Bakerís use of language gave way to sound, Englishís use of sound suggests language, or better yet, a story. Englishís 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. Itís a narrative that alludes to the austerity of life, its wildness, baroness and stillness. Itís 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 Ď08ís Kiri No Oto than the popular A Colour for Autumn. I could dive into tidbits about Englishís collaborative works, the activities of his Room40 label, or fixate on Tim Heckerís undeserving -- though inadvertent -- stealing of all the limelight. I could go into detail about these things, but Iíve already said too much.

As much as The Peregrine possesses a lifetimeís worth of ideas, and as much as I think everyone should hear it, I canít help but shake the feeling that maybe English should have left this one for himself. But no, itís 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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