(New Album Review) Black Spring & Miles Cooper Seaton- West of Will & Cvrst Patience / Adige (for Luigi Lineri) [Split]

Black Spring are a three-piece band based out of the Milton Keynes, England and curators of Monocreo.  Sound artist Jonny Hill sings and handles guitar along with synth, tapes, and mixer. Ryan Mawbey plays drums, homemade instruments, and found sounds, while Simon Wright generally takes charge where synth, keys, and samples are concerned. Miles Cooper Seaton was a crucial member of now near-legendary experimental folk groups Akron/Family and The Angels of Light, now hanging out in Italy plotting fantastic new works. And, well, West of Will & Cvrst Patience / Adige (for Luigi Lineri) is Black Spring and Miles Cooper Seaton’s fantastic split C48, now out on Monocreo– a release that explores deep soundscaping with firebranded soul. Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

On the A side track “West of Will and Cvrst Patience”, Black Spring seem at first to abandon the driving post-punk/no wave influenced pulse seen on their excellent “Golden Ghost/No End” tape and their fine debut split with The Engineer. A dingy thud and scampering shots and kicks in the dark from drums and piano throw us uneasily into the moment. A growling electronic drone rises steadily, nodding us into ashen stasis until it slowly disintegrates– we’re still under the impression we should hunker down for something wholly ambient and abstract when piano chords and fractured melody, eyelids still heavy, come to the surface and change the vibe. A spare, insistent beat starts, followed by a voice calmly singing-reciting a pair of lines again and again like a mantra…”All my time, spent in line/Distant light plagues my eyes”. As keys and ebbing guitar swell, Black Spring push us toward something shrinking  on the horizon.  The electro-acoustic soundscape has become a fragile folk song of the twilight. It is a ruinous beauty worthy of later Swans and the tail end of  Coil’s Musick to Play in the Dark Vol. 2 that Black Spring evoke here– something delicate but ironclad in its resolve, a necessary precaution for the hard ground where it grew, the grim, hyper-planned urban environment of Milton Keynes. This powerfully emotive first half is  impressive enough on its own, but there is yet more to contemplate…

For “Adige (For Luigi Lineri)”, Miles Cooper Seaton took as his inspiration the work of Italian poet, sculptor, and historian of sorts Luigi Lineri, well known in recent years for his collection of stones found by the river Adige in Northeastern Italy. The stones and their ambivalent shapes, which he believes suggest ancient designs dulled by time, Lineri tells us, tell stories on their own. In tribute to this esoteric project, Seaton fashions droney, slow synth melodies layered in soft, yawning rays. Seaton’s inspiration intuitively follows from recent experiments in what he calls “Functional Music”, which builds on Seaton’s conviction that ambient-leaning, open-ended music to which the listener can ascribe a narrative or meaning freely fulfills a deeper social purpose. The piece strays into the territory of Alio Die and Oöphoi’s deep-listening cosmos with that selfsame unmistakably organic feeling. As “Adige” ebbs and flows, you get the sense of a catalog of histories that is anything but impassive, filled with a deep reverence for the past and the mystery of life. This is fine stuff that should be, along with Seaton’s songwriting-oriented collection Phases in Exile (available in physical form exclusively in Italy, unfortunately), required listening of the year for anyone in search of immersive mind-manifesting sounds. Cooper’s ambient offerings doubtless mean even more coming from an artist who’s deliberately chosen to walk paths even less-worn than the ones that gave him his break.

Let this one take you down jagged and uncertain paths for a while, if only to see where you will take yourself.

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